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  • After Sarah's Withering, and: The Rabbi No Longer Speaks. And the Rabbi's Wife Laughs
  • Rivka Miriam (bio)
    Translated by Linda Zisquit

אַחֲרֵי בְּלוֹתָהּ שֶׁל שָׂרָה

אַחֲרֵי בְּלוֹתָהּ שֶׁל שָׂרָה.צָחֲקוּ מֵעֶיהָתִּינוֹקוֹת זָרִים, לְמִשְׁמַע הַצְּחוֹקצָמְאוּעוֹלִים מִמֶּרְחָק, לִינׁק.זִקְנַת דַּדֶּיהָיְשִׁישִׁים זָרִיםנִקְהָלִים בִּדְחָק, צָבְאוּלִדְפּׁק עַל דַּלְתָּהּ.לִרְווֹת דּוֹדֶיהָרַק אַבְרָהָם, יְרֵא הָדָר שֵׂיבָתָהּ.לִצְחוֹקָהּ לׂא שָׁעָה, לׂא קָרַב עָדֶיהָ.שְׂחוֹקָהּ נִמְחַק.לׂא נוֹלַד יִצְחָק

After Sarah's Withering

After Sarah's witheringher insides laughed.Foreign babies, aroused by her laughterthirstedrising from afar, to suckleher aging breasts.Foreign old mencrowded together, gatheringto knock on her doorto quench their lust.Only Abraham, in awe of the splendor of her old agedid not turn to her laughter, did not approach her.Her laughter was erased.Isaac was not born. [End Page 62]

.הָרַב אֵינוֹ מְדַבֵּר עוֹד. וְאֵשֶׁת הָרַב צוֹחֶקֶת

.הָרַב אֵינוֹ מְדַבֵּר עוֹד. הוּא מְאַוֵּשׁ.כְּדִפְדּוּף בְּסֵפֶר פָּתוּחַ. כְּאִוְשַׁת עֲצֵי־יַעַר בָּרוּחַ.כִּפְסִיעוֹת עַל שֶׁלֶף, כְּשֶׁגֶּשֶׁם בּוֹשֵׁשׁ.כְּרֶמֶץ מִתְפַּצֵּחַ בַּלָּאט, בְּעֵת מַאֲֹכלֶת־אֵשׁ

.וְאֵשֶׁת־הָרַב צוֹחֶקֶת.וְצוֹחֵק הַתִּינוֹק בְּחֵיקָהּ.צוֹחֵק מַרְפְּקָהּ. וּבִרְכָּהּ צוֹחֶקֶת.צוֹחֲקִים הַמַּטְבְּעוֹת בְּחֶבְיוֹן אַרְנָקָהּצוֹחֵק הַמָּרָק הַגּוֹלֵשׁ. וְהֶחָלָב בַּפִּנְכָּה. וְהָאֵין וְהַיֵּשׁ.כְּשֶׁהִיא בְּמַטְלִית אוֹתָם מְנַקָּהוְהַקֶּמֶט הָעִקֵּשׁ, הַמְאֻנָּךְ, בְּמִצְחוֹ שֶׁל הָרַב.שֶׁבְּאֶצְבַּע דַּקָּה, בּוֹעֶרֶת, הִיא עָלָיו מַחְלִיקָה

The Rabbi No Longer Speaks. And the Rabbi's Wife Laughs

The Rabbi no longer speaks. He rustles.Like the flipping of an open book. Like rustling of forest trees in the wind.Like footsteps over stubble when the rain tarries.Like embers crackling quietly, while eaten by fire.

And the Rabbi's wife laughs.So laughs the baby in her bosom.So laughs her elbow, and her knee.So laugh the coins in her purse.And the overflowing soup laughs. And the milk in its deep plate. And thenothingness and all that is keep laughing as she cleans them with her rag.So does the stubborn vertical line in the Rabbi's browover which she glides her thin burning finger. [End Page 63]

Rivka Miriam

Rivka Miriam, born in 1952 in Jerusalem, is the daughter of the renowned Yiddish writer Leib Rochman and was named for his mother and sister who perished in the Holocaust. Her first poetry collection was published in 1966, when she was 14. She has published thirteen books of poetry, two collections of short stories and two books for children, and has received numerous literary awards. These Mountains: Selected Poems of Rivka Miriam, translated by Linda Zisquit, was published in a bilingual edition in 2009.



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