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THREE POEMS BY MAYA TEVET DAYAN | THE NEW QUARTERLY (2019)

צילום עמוד הספר

 Translated by Ayelet Tsabari

 

HOME

 

What smell lingered in the rooms?

patties frying from the kitchen,

laundered linen stretched

on metal beds. Rain through windows, dust

of words sweetened as talc. Shirts’ collars

blossomed with perfume,

which was once roses,

which were once rain and earth

and a yearning for sun and life.

 

I sat on the knees of others.

Their stomach was my spine,

their arms -  my walls.

I had a home made of people.

 

 

HUNGER

 

In the middle of the night I am ravenous.

When morning rises in my faraway land

I pour yogurt into a cup,

grab two cherry tomatoes,

and eat while watching the snowy darkness.

 

My mother also foraged through the refrigerator

every night, driven by bodily confusion,

and nocturnal hunger, pot lids rejoiced

like cymbals. So did her mother, and her grandmother.

Generations of nightly gourmands.

 

But I eat now like trees

who’ve been planted far from their native land

and blossom twice: once in the new spring

and once in the spring from which they had come

 

Rooted in two soils

awake and dreaming

at the same time,

every night I welcome

a morning that has yet to dawn.

 

 

 

GRACE BEFORE MEALS

 

 

My father is standing in my kitchen,

baking sweet potatoes

to bring the flavor of mothers

back to me

and resurrect a world

where loss is not uttered.

 

My father’s hands slice fine answers to all my questions

and arrange them in baking dishes:

reasons, results,

consequences, actions.

 

We learned it the hard way: this is a world

of eaters and eaten: the sorrow eats

our hearts and we
eat the sorrow. Hastily,

in big bites, with coarse salt,

and gentle hearts. We no longer linger around the table.

lest our sorrow swallow us whole.

 

Blessed are you who brings forth bread from the earth,

who sustains the entire world

with grace, kindness and sorrow.

Blessed are you who created my father.