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COTTON / RHINO TRANSLATION PRIZE (2021)

Translated from the Hebrew by Jane Medved.

 

 

When I imagine my childhood as perfect,

I remember you

and me, on a stack of cotton in the kibbutz,

small and raised up like two cherries

on top a mountain of whipped cream.

 

I conceal the swarm of bees

and my fear of them, the persistent

humming that saws towards us,

the sweat dripping down our backs,

the weight of the heat on our eyelids,

the itch that climbs from our feet to our necks,

the asbestos walls of the cotton barn

closing in on us like a chimney.

 

I blur the fear of heights,

the worry that that we will suddenly stop breathing

from all the cotton fibers pressing the air,

and because you don’t always need a reason

to stop breathing.

 

I erase everything I didn’t know

then, everything that happened to you

on quiet nights without bees,

outside of this whiteness,

when you weren’t on a soft peak,

and not in daylight,

and not with me, and not alone,

the windows of your body broken

wide open with night.

All those terrible nights.

 

There remains only our legs burrowing

into the whitest fluff,

our skinny knees, bones stretching

under the skin, far

 

from any portion of darkness.

We float above an abyss of silence,

bits of cotton in our hair. You smile –

your two front teeth leaning on each other,

like the slats of a broken fence.