Esther, b. 1899 Shumiatcher-Hirschbein and Myra Mniewski - In Hospital - Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal 11:1 Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal 11.1 (2006) 40-45

In Hospital

Translation by Myra Mniewski
Sorrow clings to
Thin white cobwebs
Sounds of doves flutter in the wind
The earth's aroma sharp and full
Foliage fermented by sun
Perfume of lulov's palm and myrtle
Honey apples in trees
Green dreams rock the cedars
Igniting my imaginings
I close my eyes.
O sickhouse
You've become my asylum, my get-away
I seek oblivion inside your gates, [End Page 40]
translation 1
[End Page 41]
Hour after hour within your shadowy walls
I am here by a sickbed
Craving solace
for my wounded soul.

      Every stream and
      Every river
      Hidden and in plain sight
      Converge here in an end-of-life lament.
      The final outburst
      The last tear
      A lover's death throes
      Summer Fall
      Winter Spring
      Flesh ravenous for love
      Bittersweet tears
      The nightly dew
      of endless longing

Withered bones smolder here
Backs bent in wretched fever
Twisted limbs
Dumb and
A delirious mother signals
with her fingers
Moves her lips
Nostrils flared in prayer
Grief extinguished from her eyes
She only wants her two silent boys
To understand the wound inside her heart.

      Do I come here to heal my soul?
      To pinch my sorrow with someone else's screams? [End Page 42]

translation 2
[End Page 43]
      Woe to me and woe to them,
      I gorge on disease's heartache
      Inhale human agony
      Cradle myself inside a sick one's bed.

Fate has bound me
To have compassion
I'd like to merge get rooted here
Spin my cry into the anguished shadows
Sister, brother, child and wife,
Beloved spouse.

Don't hold a grudge blind fortune
I've armed myself with knives against you,
The unavoidable scream forced from me
Frantic, I've pounded
at your blind towers.
Ran wildly toward your flame—
Which has gone out . . .

      Sunrays beam into the sickhouse
      Red hibiscus bleeds through the window
      New grass
      Juts from the earth
      Fresh, spring green

God, forgive my despair
Forgive my madness.
Take the sorrow from my blood
The vanished love of my days
The tear drenched nights
My feeble heart.
Comfort me
Bestow a hint of solace
Give my heartache wings. [End Page 44]

translation 3
Myra Mniewski is a poet and translator who lives and works in New York City. She is currently the director of Yugntruf-Youth for Yiddish, a worldwide organization of Yiddish-speaking and Yiddish-learning young adults founded in 1964. For more,

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Archived 2012
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