In the Hot Wind


Celia Dropkin

I Sing You

You didn't sow a child in me,
you sowed yourself.
Now you grow in me, every day
more defined, larger.

There's already no more room for me in me,
and my soul lies like a dog at your feet
becoming weaker and weaker
but, as I die through you, as before,
I sing you my serenades.

My Hands

My hands, two little bits
of my body I'm never
ashamed to show. With fingers—
the branches of coral,
fingers—two nests
of white serpents,
fingers—the thoughts
of a nymphomaniac.

I Absorbed

I absorbed the sky,
the woods of my old home.
I bathed in drifts of snow
in the fields of that home.
By the foot of the old ranch,
I came under the moon's spell.
On our wide river, my oars
stole gold from the moon.
By the old castle,
my young lust quietly sated itself.
And because of all this
I am able to write down
a few words of love for you.

The Border

The border between life and death is so thin—
as thin as the difference between greens
at dusk, which change under the sky's blaze
from deep viridian to dead mold.

I stand on the edge of the charmed earth,
and if I reach out my hand I can touch death.
Of course I live a complete life—
yet how easily I can float it away.

When the sky is golden-red
the call from death can charm  you;
the sea is blue and the tree is still green,
—the border between life and death is so thin.

translated from the Yiddish by Faith Jones, Jennifer Kronovet, and Samuel Solomon