[End Page 98]
[End Page 100]
Everything stoppedwhen the angel of two split seconds appeared.
I stood, my face to the window,preparing salad.
The knife was about to woundthe tomato's smooth skin.
My cells electrifiedand my body was continuously present,
my spine rising tallout of my hips heavy as a flower stand. [End Page 99]
When the angel approached, I breathed through gillsI didn't know I had,in the presentwhich is all tenses.
What blew over me was not windwhat blew over me was the lightfor which everyone longs.
I spoke the hummingbird's lineswhile the angel sucked my heart'sbrandy filling,
just the angel and meisolated from time's courseinside handcuffs like parentheses.
At the other split secondI returned to the sound of the dogs barking,
the tomato cut in two,its juices continued to bleed,
the clouds at the windowcontinued to practice shapes,
and if I'm shown pure marble –I'll still call it water water1.
Agi Mishol is one of Israel's most popular contemporary poets. Her latest volume of poems, House Call, following on a dozen earlier ones, was published in Israel in summer of 2009; the title poem deals at length with her experience as the daughter of Holocaust survivors. Her next book will be a selection of essays on writing and literature, including the figure of the muse. Look There, a selection of her poems in English, was published by Graywolf Press in 2006. She has two children and two new grandchildren.
Lisa Katz won the 2008 Mississippi Poetry Prize. Reconstruction, a volume of her poetry translated from English into Hebrew, as well as poems written in Hebrew, was published by the veteran Israeli press Am Oved in 2008. A secular American, in 1983 she moved from her native New York to Israel, where she now works as a translator. In addition to Mishol's Look There, she is the translator (with Shlomit Naor) of the forthcoming Approaching You in English (Zephyr Press), poetry with a focus on gender and religious practice by Admiel Kosman. She is the mother of two bilingual adults in their 20s.
1. In Tractate Hagiga 14b, Babylonian Talmud: four sages entered an orchard/paradise (pardes): Ben Azzai, Ben Zoma, the Other, and Rabbi Akiba. Rabbi Akiba warned them, "When you enter near the stones of pure marble, do not say 'water. water,' since it is written, 'He who speaks falsehood will not be established before My eyes.'" (Psalms 101:7). [End Page 101]