Two Poems

translated by 
Tahel Frosh. Photo by Alon Porat
Tahel Frosh. Photo by Alon Porat

הרי ספרד

אֲנִי כּוֹתֶבֶת אֶת מַה שֶּׁלֹּא יִתָּכֵן
כִּי יֵשׁ מִי שֶׁמְּדַבְּרִים עַל כֶּסֶף בְּאִינְטִימִיוּת
מִי שֶׁמַּעֲבִירִים בִּזְרָמִים חוּשָׁנִיִּים כֶּסֶף
שֶׁלְּעוֹלָם לֹא אֲקַבֵּל
וַאֲנִי מַקְשִׁיבָה לַקּוֹל הָאוֹמֵר, מָכַרְנוּ בְּמִילְיוֹנִים
אֲנִי מַקְשִׁיבָה לְעֵינֵי הַמַּתֶּכֶת הַתְּכֻלּוֹת

וּבַבַּיִת חוֹשֶׁבֶת, מִשְׁקָפַיִם יָפִים עוֹלִים אֶלֶף שֶׁקֶל
וְחוֹשֶׁבֶת גַּם, בְּיוֹם רְבִיעִי בְּלִשְׁכַּת הַתַּעֲסוּקָה
אנִּיחַ אֶצְבַּע בְּמִסְגֶּרֶת הָאֶצְבַּע וְעַיִן
אֶלֶקְטְרוֹנִית אֲדֻמָּה תִּתְפֹּס אֶת קַוַּי
וְהַמְּכוֹנָה תּוֹצִיא תַּדְפִּיס
וְתֹאמַר לִי: לְכִי לָךְ
.אֵין עֲבוֹדָה. וַאֲנִי אֶשְׂמַח

לֹא, אֵין זֶה יִתָּכֵן
שֶׁמּוּל הַכֶּסֶף רֹאשִׁי יָפֶה
כְּרֹאשָׁהּ שֶׁל רוֹזֶנֶת
רוּסִיָּה שֶׁיָּרְדָה מִנְּכָסֶיהָ
לְפֶתַע, בְּאִישׁוֹן לַיְלָה, בְּאִבְחָה

וְשׁוֹתָה תֵּה בְּקַנְקַן, וְאוֹכֶלֶת פֵּרוֹת יְבֵשִׁים
וְשׁוֹכֶבֶת פְּרַקְדָּן שְׁתֵּים עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁעוֹת בְּיוֹם בַּחֲלוּקָהּ הַיָּשָׁן
הַקָּרוּעַ וְקוֹרֵאת רוֹמָנִים אנְגְּלִיִּים עַל נָשִׁים
.אנְגְּלִיּוֹת שֶׁהַגּוֹרָל עוֹמֵד לְהֵיטִיב אִתָּן

אֵין זֶה אֶפְשָׁרִי שֶׁאֲנִי מְגַלָּה
בְּעַצְמִי סֵרוּב עָמֹק, בְּסִיסִי
לַחְשׁבֹ עַל כֶּסֶף, לְתַמְחֵר, לִרְצוֹת
לַעֲבֹד בִּשְׁבִילוֹ. זוֹ קְלָלָה

וְאִמִּי הוֹרִישָׁה לִי אוֹתָהּ
עִם נְטִיָּתִי הַפּוֹתָה אחַר תַּעֲנוּגוֹת אֶסְתֵטִיִּים
,וְהַצִּמּוּד הָארוּר שֶׁבֵּין יָקָר וְיָפֶה
וּבִכְלָל נְטִיָּתִי אחֲרֵי קָפֶה שֶׁמַּגִּישִׁים לִי
.בְּבָתֵּי קָפֶה, וְאחֲרֵי מַאֲפִים, וְאחֲרֵי שִׂמְלוֹת תַּחְרָה

כָּל זֶה לֹא יִתָּכֵן כְּלָל
שֶׁיִּדְחֶה מַחְשָׁבוֹת עַל אהֲבָה וְעַל
עֹנֶג מִינִי וְעַל רְצוֹנִי לִנְשֹׁם אֲוִיר
שֶׁאֲחֵרי הַגֶּשֶׁם, עַד כְּדֵי כָּךְ
שֶׁאֶהְיֶה מְמֻסְגֶרֶת בְּסֵפֶר
שֶׁכּוֹתַרְתּוֹ: לֵילוֹת קוֹקָאִין
וְאֶכְעַס כְּשֶׁאֶקְרָא עַל אֲנָשִׁים שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהֶם

כֶּסֶף, כָּל כָּךְ הַרְבֵּה כֶּסֶף
שֶׁהֵם יוֹצְאִים לְהָרֵי סְפָרַד
וְחַיִּים בַּשֶּׁמֶשׁ בְּוִילוֹת יֻקְרָתִיּוֹת
.בַּגִּיל הַצָּעִיר שְׁלֹשִים וּשְׁמוֹנֶה

אֵיךְ זֶה יִתָּכֵן
שֶׁבִּמְקוֹם לִשְׁכַּב בֵּין הָרֵי סְפָרַד אֲנִי
חוֹשֶׁבֶת עַל כֶּסֶף בְּתֵל אבִיב
בְּדִירַת חֶדֶר וְהַגֶּשֶׁם יוֹרֵד וּבְכָל זֹאת
אֵינִי יוֹצֵאת הַחוּצָה לָתוּר אחַר שְׁלוּלִיּוֹת
.לִצְחֹק לְמַרְאֵה תַּיָּרִים שֶׁחֻפְשָׁתָם נֶהֶרְסָה

לֹא אֵין זֶה יִתָּכֵן לִשְׁמֹעַ
אֶת הָאִישׁ שֶׁמְּדַבֵּר עַל מִילְיוֹנִים וְלֹא לָמוּת
לָמוּת מַמָּשׁ, עַל כְּרִיכַת הָרוֹמָן הָאנְגְּלִי שֶׁלִּי
בֵּין שְׁזִיפִים אוֹרְגָנִיִּים אֲכוּלִים וְקַנְקַן תֵּה
.רֵיק לְמֶחֱצָה

The Mountains of Spain

I am writing what is impossible
because there are people who talk about money during sex
transferring through carnal channels
money I’ll never receive
and I hear someone say, we sold for millions
I am listening to those blue metallic eyes

Back at home, I’m thinking that nice frames cost 1,000 shekels
and I’m thinking that on Wednesday at the employment office
I’ll place my finger on a square and a red
beam will scan its ridges
and a machine will print out
the words: move along
there’s no work. And I’ll be happy.

It can’t be
that next to money my head is as pretty
as a Russian princess
who’s lost everything
suddenly, in the dark, in one fell swoop

and now drinks tea from a thermos and eats dried fruit
and lies on her back half the day in her old
ragged bathrobe reading English novels about English
ladies with destiny in their favor.

It can’t be true that I’ve only just discovered
this innate, chronic refusal
to think about money, to charge, to want
to work for it. It’s a curse

I inherited from my mother
along with my penchant for aesthetic pleasures
and that unholy union of wealth and beauty
not to mention a fancy for coffee served
in a coffee shop, and pastries and lace dresses.

All of this is so impossible
that it holds back thoughts of love and
lust and my will to breathe the air
after rain so much
that I’ll lose myself in a book
called Cocaine Nights
and get mad when I read about people with

money, so much money
that they retire to the mountains of Spain
and sunbathe in fancy villas
at the age of thirty-eight.

How is it possible
that instead of lounging in these Spanish mountains
I am thinking about money in a studio
in Tel Aviv and it’s raining and so what
I won’t go looking for puddles
and make fun of tourists on lousy vacations.

No, it’s impossible to listen
to that man talking about his millions and not want to die
to really die on the cover of my English novel
between chewed organic plums and a thermos of tea sitting
half empty.

רואה חשבון

אַבָּא, הָעֲבוֹדָה שֶׁלְּךָ, אֲנִי חוֹשֶׁבֶת שֶׁהָרְגָה אוֹתְךָ, כְּשֶׁהָיִיתִי יַלְדָּה יָצָאתָ בְּכָל בֹּקֶר מֵהַבַּיִת בְּשָׁעוֹת לֹא סְבִירוֹת וְהַלֵּב שֶׁלִּי דָּפַק כְּשֶׁשָּׁכַבְתִּי בַּמִּטָּה וְרָצִיתִי לַהֲרֹג אֶת כֻּלָּם וְאֶת עַצְמִי בִּגְלַל שֶׁנֶּאֱלַצְתָּ לָקוּם מֻקְדָּם וְלִנְסֹעַ וְלִנְסֹעַ, הָעֵינַיִם שֶׁלְּךָ הָרְגוּ אוֹתְךָ, הִרְכַּבְתָּ מִשְׁקָפַיִם מְיֻחָדִים, הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ סִנְוְרָה אוֹתְךָ וּבַלַּיְלָה לֹא רָאִיתָ כְּלוּם, וּבְכָל זֹאת נָסַעְתָּ בְּמִין נֶאֱמָנוּת כַּלְבִּית לַמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה, תָּמִיד הָיִיתָ נֶאֱמָן לִמְקוֹם הָעֲבוֹדָה, כָּל מְקוֹם עֲבוֹדָה: פַּעַם בְּ"הַסְּנֶה" שָׁם הָיִיתָ מַנְכַּ"ל חֶבְרַת הַהַשְׁקָעוֹת וְאָז הִיא הֻפְרְטָה, הִתְמוֹטְטָה וְנִסְגְּרָה וְהַלֵּב שֶׁלְּךָ נִשְׁבַּר, אַחַר כָּךְ נִסִּיתָ לִהְיוֹת עַצְמָאִי וְהָלַכְתָּ לַעֲבֹד בְּאֵיזֶה בַּנְק פּוֹלָנִי וְאַחַר כָּךְ הֶחְלַטְתָּ לַחְזֹר לִהְיוֹת שָׂכִיר וְהָלַכְתָּ לַעֲבֹד בְּ"כּוּר" שֶׁגַּם הִיא הֻפְרְטָה וּפֻטַּרְתָּ וְאָז נָסַעְתָּ לְאַפְרִיקָה לַעֲבֹד בְּ"סוֹלֵל בּוֹנֶה" וְחָטַפְתָּ הִתְמוֹטְטוּת עֲצַבִּים בִּגְלַל הַלַּרְיַאם שֶׁנָּתְנוּ לְךָ כְּדֵי לְחַסֵּן אוֹתְךָ מֵהַמַּחֲלוֹת שֶׁל אַפְרִיקָה, הִתְקַשַּׁרְתָּ אֵלֵינוּ בּוֹכֶה מִשָׁם, אָבוּד וְחַלָּשׁ וְקָטָן, אֲנִי לָמַדְתִּי מִשְׁפָּטִים, אִמָּא שָׁבְרָה אֶת הָרֶגֶל, דִּבַּרְתִּי אִתְּךָ בַּטֶּלֶפוֹן וְהִרְגַּעְתִּי אוֹתְךָ, הַכֹּל בְּסֵדֶר אָמַרְתִּי לְךָ, רוֹאִים בַּתְּמוּנוֹת שֶׁשָּׁם הָיָה לְךָ טוֹב, חִיַּכְתָּ חִיּוּךְ קָטָן וְסוֹדִי לְיַד הָאִשָּׁה הַשְּׁחוֹרָה הַגְּדוֹלָה שֶׁעָמְדָה לִימִינְךָ, וּלְיַד קַטְנוֹעַ שֶׁנָּסַעְתָּ בּוֹ, וּלְיַד הֲמוֹן דָּגִים שֶׁפִּתְאֹם אָכַלְתָּ וּבְיִשְׂרָאֵל הִתְנַגַּדְתָּ לָהֶם בְּכָל תֹּקֶף, אַחַר כָּךְ הַסְּנִיף בְּאַפְרִיקָה נִסְגַּר וְחָזַרְתָּ לְכָאן וְנָתְנוּ לְךָ לְנַהֵל אֵיזוֹ מַחְלָקָה בְּ"שִׁכּוּן בִּנּוּי" שׁוּב חֶבְרָה שֶׁל שָׁרִי אָרִיסוֹן, וְכָל הַזְּמַן הָיִיתָ בְּמֶתַח כִּי הָיוּ עֲבוֹדוֹת קָשׁוֹת לִסְגִירַת רִבְעוֹן וְאַף פַּעַם לֹא הָיְתָה הֲפוּגָה אַף פַּעַם לֹא הָיִיתָ מְרֻצֶּה, וְלֹא יָדַעְתִּי כְּלוּם מִמַּה שֶּׁאַתָּה עוֹשֶׂה חוץ מִזֶּה שֶׁיֵּשׁ לַחַץ וְאַתָּה לָחוּץ וְהַכֹּל לָחוּץ מְאֹד וּמִתְנַפֵּחַ מֵרֹב לַחַץ עַד שֶׁיֵּשׁ סִכּוּי שֶׁיִּתְפּוֹצֵץ הַמָּקוֹם וְאִתּוֹ כָּל הָעוֹלָם, הָלַכְתָּ בְּעוֹלָם בְּתוֹךְ עוֹלָם שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה לִי בּוֹ חֵלֶק וְזֶה הָיָה הָעוֹלָם הַיָּחִיד שֶׁלְּךָ וְאֶת כֻּלְּךָ הִכַּרְתָּ לַאֲנָשִׁים זָרִים וְהִשְׁאַרְתָּ לִי צְדוּדִית בְּשָׁעוֹת מְאֻחָרוֹת מוּל מָסַכֵּי טֶלֶוִיזְיָה שֶׁעִם הַשָּׁנִים הָפְכוּ דַּקִּים וּגְדוֹלִים יוֹתֵר דַּקִּים וּגְדוֹלִים יוֹתֵר וְעוֹד יוֹתֵר, אַבָּא, אַבָּא, רָצִיתִי לַעֲבֹד אִתְּךָ בַּמִּשְׂרָד, שֶׁתִּקַּח אוֹתִי לַמִּשְׂרָד, שֶׁתִּקַּח אוֹתִי בַּיָּד לְשָׁם, שֶׁתִּתֵּן לִי לַעֲשׂוֹת חֶשְׁבּוֹנוֹת, עָשִׂיתִי חָמֵשׁ יְחִידוֹת בְּמָתֶמָטִיקָה וְקִבַּלְתִּי תִּשְׁעִים וְחָמֵשׁ כְּדֵי לִהְיוֹת טוֹבָה בְּחֶשְׁבּוֹן, אֲבָל לֹא לָקַחְתָּ אוֹתִי אַף פַּעַם, לָמָּה לֹא קִבַּלְתְּ מֵאָה? צָחַקְתָּ, זֶה הָיָה הַצְּחוֹק הַיְּחִידִי שֶׁלָּנוּ, וְכָל זֶה הָיָה נִמְשָׁךְ וְנִמְשָׁךְ כָּכָה חָשַׁבְתִּי שֶׁיִּמָּשֵׁךְ עַד שֶׁנָּמוּת אֲבָל פִּתְאֹם חָלִיתָ וְלֹא סְתָם אֶלָּא בְּמַחֲלָה סוֹפָנִית, וְזֶה הָיָה הַסּוֹף שֶׁלְּךָ, סוֹף הָעֲבוֹדָה, סוֹף הַצְּדוּדִית,
.תְּחִלַּת מַרְאֵה הַפָּנִים, הַתְחָלַת הָאַהֲבָה שֶׁלְּךָ. כָּכָה נֵס הַסּוֹף קָרָה לָנוּ

Accountant

Dad, I think your job killed you, when I was little you’d leave the house every morning at an ungodly hour and I would lie in bed with my heart pounding wanting to kill everyone even myself because you had to get up so early and drive and drive, your eyes really hurt, you’d put on special glasses, the sun blinded you and at night you couldn’t see anything, and still you would drive like a faithful dog to that place, you were always loyal to your job, wherever it was: once it was Hassneh,[1] where you managed an investment company that privatized and collapsed and your heart broke, after that you tried to be a free agent and you went to work at some Polish bank and then you decided to go back to a paycheck so you went to work for Koor Industries and it also privatized, and you were fired, and then you went to Africa to work for Solel Boneh[2] and you had a nervous breakdown because of the Larium they prescribed to immunize from those African diseases, you’d call us crying, sounding lost and weak and small, I studied law, Mom broke her leg, I’d talk to you on the phone and calm you down, everything’s okay I’d say, things seemed to be going well for you in the photographs, you flashed a tiny, private smile next to the big black woman on your right, next to the scooter you rode, next to the piles of fish that you eagerly ate but refused to eat at all in Israel, later the African branch closed and you came back and you were asked to manage an arm of Shikun binui (yet another Shari Arison company) [3] and you were stressed out all the time because it was a grind at the end of a quarter and there was never a lull and you were never satisfied, and I never understood what you were doing except for all the pressure that you were under and everything was pressing and inflating from all that pressure and there was a chance that that place would burst and take the whole world with it, but you lived in a world apart and I had no part in it and it was your only world and you gave yourself to strangers and what was leftover was a late-night profile in front of TV screens that grew thinner and bigger and thinner and bigger with the years, Dad, Dad, I wanted to work with you, I wanted you to take me to work, to take me by the hand, to put me in charge of the books, I took extra math classes and got an A so that I would be good at bookkeeping but you never did, why didn’t you get an A+? you teased, that was the only time we shared a laugh, and this would have gone on and on I thought that it would keep on going until we died but suddenly you got sick and it wasn’t trivial, it was a terminal illness, and that was the end for you, the end of the work, the end of that profile, the beginning of your whole face, the beginning of your love. That’s how this final miracle came to us.

Translations from the Hebrew
By Adriana X. Jacobs


Photo by Alon Porat

Tahel Frosh (b. 1977) has degrees in law and psychology and is currently working on a doctorate in literature. Her debut poetry collection, Betsa (Avarice. Jerusalem, Mossad Bialik, 2014), from which these poems have been chosen, was published in 2014 to wide acclaim. She also co-edited the anthology Avodat gilui (Unveiling work) and is a member of the art and social justice collective Cultural Guerrilla.

Adriana X. Jacobs is the Cowley Lecturer in modern Hebrew literature at the University of Oxford and specializes in contemporary Israeli poetry and translation. She is completing her first book, Strange Cocktail: Poetics and Practices of Translation in Modern Hebrew Poetry.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Tahel Frosh’s poem contains references to Israeli companies that are connected to each other through a history of acquisition and privatization. Hassneh was an Israeli insurance company that was founded in 1924 and operated until 1992.

[2] Koor Industries was founded in 1944 as an industrial arm of Solel boneh. Solel boneh, Paving and Building, is a construction and civil engineering company founded in 1921 by the Histadrut (General Organization of Workers in the Land of Israel). Today it is owned by Shikun u-binui (see below).

[3] Shikun u-binui, Housing and Construction Holding Company, Ltd., is an affiliate of Arison Investments and one of the largest construction and infrastructure companies in Israel. Shari Arison (b. 1957) is an American-Israeli businesswoman and philanthropist and the owner of Arison Investments (which includes Bank Hapoalim). She is the richest woman in the Middle East, according to Forbes.

World Literature Today
630 Parrington Oval, Suite 110
Norman, OK 73019-4037
405-325-4531



Updated by World Literature Today: [email protected]