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Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal 11.2 (2006) 60-63

(In Reply to the Question What Are You Still Doing Here)
Liat Kaplan
Translated by Rachel Tzvia Back

What are you doing here? There's nothing to see. Go on, get lost. Go, go already,
it's over. What is there for you here? Only growing darkness. They do not speak your language.
A different language, dissembling, says: Sky. Sea. What, what do you see?
The shining light is setting. The intoxicating scent of the mountain's soil is the scent of decay.
The streaming beauty of your city streets is infected. Go, go forth from your country
and from your homeland. Go to any other country, to a foreign tongue. It is almost
too late. Go forth. Here the vessels are cracked. Don't you see? Night descends. Tomorrow
the sun will not rise. Do you see what I see? Does it hurt? It hurts.
The sunset is adorned in a terrible orange. How awful is this place, our home. [End Page 60]

[End Page 61]

It is none other than the house of God, it is a graveyard. Redder than can be borne.
Ravenous ravenous. What are you still doing here? Love ruins
the line. Word for word write on your vessels: here, all
is nothing. You see. What are you saying? Go forth. Go.
Do you see what I see? Love is blind. Get out of here,
even the sea is retreating. Why brood on the edges of the wound? [End Page 62]

Liat Kaplan, poet, editor and leader of writing workshops, was born on a kibbutz and now lives in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. She studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the New School in New York and Ben-Gurion University in Beer Sheva. She has published four volumes of poetry, in addition to a dozen books and pamphlets on political and social issues. Kaplan has served as the artistic director of the annual Metulla Poetry Festival. Her current book, In Praise of Forgetting, is forthcoming from Carmel Press.


The "you" of the poem is in the female form (at), as is the voice of the speaker.

Line 5: Cf. Genesis 12: 1, where God instructs Abraham to leave his home.

Lines 9-10: "How awful is this place" and "It is none other than the house of God" are direct quotations from Genesis 28:17.

Final line: The word for "edge"—safah—means also "shore," "lips" and "language".



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pp. 60-63
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Archived 2012
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