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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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Poems by Special Guest Raquel Chalfi

[Translator Tsipi Keller]





                                                                                                             Field of Light, Cooper Renner
 
  

The Water Queen of Jerusalem



 

The Water Queen of Jerusalem

dives into history

history is hard and she grows fins

she has no air and she schemes

gills rowing through memory

the Water Queen of Jerusalem owns

a bathing suit made of Yiddish

the Water Queen of Jerusalem wallows on a stone beach in Ladino

fearing the rise of water level in Arabic

the Water Queen of Jerusalem has no

sea in Jerusalem

she has a history

Jewish

and she holds

holds holds her head

above water

 





Brief Love

 


 

Slices slices silence has cut

through us

He took me from the noise

and time became a summer of grace

between killings

and I reached my hand     and he came like a rain of grace

and on Mount Zion the darkness was thick

and the little light in the churchyard was frail     frail

and I reached my hand and he fell into me in despair despair

and later he led me by the hand

like the sighted leads the blind

and we saw so much so much

it was possible to touch the roots of things

and we saw until our eyes refused to retain

two beautiful weeks

between wars

do you know what it means two full innocent weeks

between death and death

you can’t ask for more than that and if we were to ask

it would have had a measure of arrogance

It was such a cruel beauty

And such a silence

on the altar

 

  



Hair of Night

 

1.

To weave the locks of darkness

a thick braid on the downy nape

of the earth

to mold with moist hands

the clay of dark craving

trees knitted from trembling

coiled branches of allegiance

and a broad meadow

waiting in vain

 

2.

Night combs its long hair like a woman

sitting at her window at night

 

3.

Night hungry runs barefoot through the streets

weeds spread rumors about it

 

4.

Night begets day what will day bring

night its dreams undone

breaks into the heart of a city

rips a street into bands

how I wish to dye the night's hair

a startling orange

 

5.

How we wished a blaze will spread in the twigs twigs as blaze

sweep the trail of excess words

leave a clear polished dance floor for thick dense emotions

spin into dance, into a giant ball

 

6.

How I wished the great night's hair

would wrap around me like snakes but warm

 

7.

Such a truth and even the down of dusk

stiffens

the mind's shutters get knocked violently

a blow of darkness

rescues a night

whose hairs got all tangled up

 

8.

Dreams the heart's sweat

on a night's taut skin

its hair gathered

its temples damp

the secretions of dreams dribble from it

drip

drop

cool

salty

 

9.

Such an old night

its chimes still clear

we crawl on its belly

and it welcomes us inside

like a mad satyr who's fallen asleep

blissfully




[Pushcart Nomination]


© Reprinted by special permission: 

Poets on the Edge: An Anthology of 

Contemporary Hebrew Poetry,

SUNY Press 2008


©Field of Light, Cooper Renner

 

 

 

 

 

                       

 


Raquel Chalfi was born in Tel-Aviv where she lives and works. She studied at Hebrew University, at Berkeley University, and at the American Film Institute. She worked for Israeli radio and television as a writer, director, and producer and has taught film at Tel Aviv University.  Her volume of collected poems, Solar Plexus, Poems 1975-1999, appeared in 2002, with an extensive introductory essay by the scholar Dan Miron. Most recently, her work, in Tsipi Keller’s translation, has appeared in the American Poetry Review, Zoland Annual, Metamorphoses, and in the anthology Poets on the Edge: An Anthology of Contemporary Hebrew Poetry (SUNY Press). It will also appear in the 2011 volume of The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization.


[Ms Chalfi's biography provided by Tsipi Keller.]