Elegies for ben-Shushan

Erez Bitton


Don't take it to heart, ben-Shushan,
and if you stick a finger between your teeth
no one, frankly, will give a damn,
and she won't cross her fingers for you
as you travel to the remote regions of sorrow,
don ben-Juan
indeed ben-Juan
you'd better begin to plan the truly great laugh
and a finger and a finger and a finger
in the prophetic eye


Ayima leziza diali
look and see
how even the sun stays away so as not to touch me,
how the birds from the treetops point their beaks at me,
how the children cast glances of fear at me,
in spite of the prison bars.

My dear mother,
it is not the chains that weigh me down,
it is my heart that's weightier than chains,
and the darkness all around is hard to bear,
my dear mother.


translated from the Hebrew by Tsipi Keller