My body is a place
Aren’t we both alone here tonight, I say to Sarit & lean to turn off the light.
But she insists: you promised to tell where to find you once I decide to leave.
I point to the bookshelf, & she’s not satisfied.
Over here, I point at the gap
between violin notes of Sibelius,
at the silence of bathwater
in the belly button, but she’s not satisfied.
Asks me not to turn off the light.
& I’m already tired, my whole body is a place
& aren’t we both here tonight, both alone.
Now, after getting back from a visit to Merav’s grandma
I begin to understand mouth and flesh.
We ate soft-boiled eggs, dipped in cottage cheese, on sliced bread
& I said to Merav, notice how simple life is
in Pardes Chanah. “Everything’s natural here,” I observed while
I mopped up the runny egg with bread.
We drank tea with little leaves, then with big leaves
I yawned once, twice—until we decided to go back to Tel Aviv.
We argued the whole way.
I explained that the body converses with us only when it’s hungry
but she corrected me delicately:
“It’s not that you don’t know how to listen, the language between you two is faulty.”
Since then I’m trying hard to speak more clearly.
I say “forward,” and the body closes a window.
I say “apple,” and the body sits down on the bed
I say “table,” and the body pulls the sheets up.
Mistaken again. Nothing is going on track.
What in the world should I say after I left Hagar’s house.
We were at the Neal Jordan film
& I insisted on holding the popcorn.
Afterward we split up.
I said, you always fall that way
& she asked, which way
I giggled, the way you crumple into yourself
depends with who–& she shut the door.
The street was quiet. A dog pissed on my motorbike chain
& I waved away the smell with my hand.
I got home, I gathered up my cat Zelda,
we listened to Leonard Cohen “One of Us Cannot Be Wrong,”
I poured a martini & tried to fall asleep. Too bad no moon
looking me in the eyes. Even that way the street’s too quiet.
YAKIR BEN-MOSHE won the Israel Prime Minister’s Prize for Literature in 2012. He has published four books of poetry and one of children’s literature. He lives with his wife and children in Tel Aviv, where he is the Literary Editor of the Bialik House.
ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR:
DAN ALTER has published poems and translations widely. His collection My Little Book of Exiles, Eyewear Press, won the poetry prize for the 2022 Cowan Writer’s Awards. He lives in Berkeley with his wife and daughter where he makes his living as an IBEW electrician. You can visit his website here.