Two Poems

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Photo by Benjamin Jakabek Photography
Photo by Benjamin Jakabek Photography


alone

i will live alone in a room
with two birds,
a cat
and three flowers.
in the mornings we will wake
with blue eyes.
in the mornings we will touch with blue eyes.
and out:
through the darkness, through the door
and one through the chimney with me.
at noon we will guzzle from a dish of sun.
and when guests come –
the rain and the spider –
the cat will tell a story
of a cat,
who yearns for greener eyes
and in bleaching them extinguishes
his paws.
and in the evening,
in the star-dappled evening –
god, what will we do
in the star-dappled evening?


bring me the blood of the enemy

bring me the blood of the enemy on your knife.
my eyes run to you upriver.
bring me the blood of the enemy on your knife,
we will be free from the red signs.

bring me the blood of the enemy on your knife.
it may already be dried up, it will erase my heart.
it will erase the enemy who burns in my eyes,
and my gray hair will again turn black.

bring me the blood of the enemy on your knife,
i will kiss your hands long and piously.
bring me the blood of the enemy on your knife,
and i will pardon the reddest bloom.

Translations from the Yiddish
By Diana Clarke

Rajzel Zychlinsky (1910–2001) was born in Gombin, Poland, and her first book of poems was published to great acclaim by the Yiddish PEN Club in Warsaw in 1936. Zychlinsky survived World War II in Tatarstan and afterward moved to Paris, New York, and finally California. Her ashes were scattered over the Pacific Ocean.

Diana Clarke lives in western Massachusetts. She teaches teenagers, hikes, and works as the copyeditor of In geveb, a new digital journal of Yiddish studies.