[End Page 83]
Woe is me; I am lost…
from the raging teeth, they seize me like spears—
from the blows of rabid hate mongers
exalting in their dance of madness.
I hang on to the heavens with mutinous nails,
scream my bitterness to the winds.
Woe is me, my mother, that you ever bore me
in these days of distress and toil—
when blood turns to iron
and humans turn upon each other.
The peaceful ways are gone:
cities—all fortified; travelers—unsafe.
Hostile eyes laugh, pulling us into the abyss. [End Page 82]
Fie, you empty comforters!
I've grown exhausted with these false fairytales;
your lullabies won't let me sleep.
I won't build towers on the maw of a volcano;
I won't erect ivory palaces on the mouth of an abyss.
Will I be swept away? Will this be my end?
Shall I go left or right in these desolate times?
The pillar of cloud to guide me is already gone,
it is already gone…? [End Page 84]
Anne Shanin Kleiman is the first American-born Jewish woman to publish poems in Hebrew. The fourth of seven children born in St. Joseph, Missouri to Russian immigrant parents, she attended a community Hebrew school, where she proved herself an avid and gifted student. At the age of nineteen, Anne came to Chicago to study both at the University of Chicago and the College of Jewish Studies. With Hebrew as the language of instruction, she studied Jewish history, rabbinic thought, Bible, Hebrew language and grammar, and Hebrew literature. She wrote poems in Hebrew, which were published both in the student newspaper and in 1947 as a collection entitled N'tafim (Droplets). Still a resident of Chicago, in December 2006 Anne Kleiman was 97 years old.
Yosefa Raz was born in Be'er Sheva and raised in Jerusalem. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in numerous publications including ZYZZYVA, Tikkun, Moment, and Glimmer Train. Her first collection of poetry, In Exchange for a Homeland, was published in 2004 by Swan Scythe Press. She is currently a student in the Graduate Theological Union-UC Berkeley Joint Doctoral program in Jewish Studies, focusing on literary approaches to the Hebrew Bible.