Monday, August 22, 2005

Dalia Ravikovitch, Z"L

Adam Schonbrun emailed me the news this afternoon: Dalia Ravikovitch, "Israel's Plath / Sexton" (as I've seen her dubbed) has died. Another poet I should have known of, and now I guess I'll get to learning.

I had the Haaretz obit up earlier, but the invaluable members of WOM-PO, the women's poetry discussion list, have turned up this link and also some poems, which I'm passing along. They were translated by Chana Bloch and Ariel Bloch. More soon.

by Dahlia Ravikovitch (translated from the Hebrew
by Chana Bloch and Ariel Bloch)

By the sewage puddles of Sabra and Shatila,
there you transported human beings
in impressive quantities
from the world of the living to the world
of eternal light.

Night after night.
First they shot,
they hanged,
then they slaughtered with their knives.
Terrified women climbed up
on a ramp of earth, frantic:
"They're slaughtering us there,
in Shatila."

A thin crust of moon
over the camps.
Our soldiers lit up the place with searchlights
till it was bright as day.
"Back to the camp,
beat it!" a soldier yelled at
the screaming women from Sabra and Shatila.
He was following orders.
And the children already lying in puddles of filth,
their mouths gaping,
at peace.
No one will harm them.
You can't kill a baby twice.

And the moon grew fuller and fuller
till it became a round loaf of gold.

Our sweet soldiers
wanted nothing for themselves.
All they ever asked
was to come home


by Dahlia Ravikovitch (translated from the Hebrew
by Chana Bloch and Ariel Bloch)

After they all leave,
I remain alone with the poems,
some poems of mine, some of others.
I prefer poems that others have written.
I remain quiet, and slowly
the knot in my throat dissolves.
I remain.

Sometimes I wish everyone would go away.
Maybe it's nice, after all, to write poems.
You sit in your room and the walls grow taller.
Colors deepen.
A blue kerchief becomes a deep well.

You wish everyone would go away.
You don't know what's the matter with you.
Perhaps you'll think of something.
Then it all passes, and you are pure crystal.

After that, love.
Narcissus was so much in love with himself.
Only a fool doesn't understand
he loved the river, too.

You sit alone.
Your heart aches, but
it won't break.
The faded images wash away one by one.
Then the defects.
A sun sets at midnight. You remember
the dark flowers too.

You wish you were dead or alive or
somebody else.
Isn't there a country you love? A word?
Surely you remember.

Only a fool lets the sun set when it likes.
It always drifts off too early
westward to the islands.

Sun and moon, winter and summer
will come to you,
infinite treasures.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I knew Dalia. She was brave and kind and utterly sad. Often she would show up in my office in deepest darkest Palestine to plot some way to bring peace to the land. I only wish I could have done more. I will always remember her.