Vera Meisels Oct 23, 2008 23:48:27 GMT 2
Post by moira on Oct 23, 2008 23:48:27 GMT 2
Born in Czechoslovakia in 1936. In 1944,at the age of eight, she was sent to the Theresienstadt ghetto. Her collection “Terezin’s Firefly”, G+G Publishing House, Prague, 2001 reflects her experiences there. In 1949 she immigrated to Israel under the Youth Immigration scheme . She studied sculpture in Jerusalem and her statue “Musselman” is in the Yad Vashem Museum. She writes in Hebrew and her poems have been translated and published in English and Slovakian. The poem “Documentary Film:81st Blow” was published in the Journal of Genocide Research, New York.
If not for the letter you sent me
then, half a century ago
in my rebellious years,
I’d never have known
the mother you were.
AND I DIDN’T OPEN IT.
Didn’t read it, thinking you strange, odd,
sunk in yourself and holes dug
for your loved ones. You raised me unsmiling,
with neither hug nor caress. Your lips arched
by no kiss. There, but absent.
If not for that letter, whose folds
stayed closed, I’d never have known
what strengths you choked in yourself.
AND I DIDN’T FEEL IT.
As if after that devastating rupture
all you might caress was the never erected
tombstone on the ashes of your family
and to smile was to betray, to love was to deceive
and no kiss might be released from your tight lips.
AND I DIDN’T KNOW.
Now, having opened the folds of your letter,
I haven’t got you to console and be consoled.
The letter reveals you
as you were in your aching heart
where I the rebel only added anxiety.
On the page in front of me, in clear, beautiful
writing in a language my children don’t know,
just as they will never know you,
you support, encourage, strengthen and counsel me.
AND I DIDN’T READ.
Now, mature at last, I understand
you could not do otherwise, afraid
I’d inherit the curse the tyrant laid on you.
Translated by Riva Rubin
MY TURN TO DISCOVER THE HIDING PLACE
She curls up, crams herself under a chair,
or in some nook in my house, shouts
“Granny come and find my hiding place.”
Just two and a bit and already able to find
a place to thread herself, to hide
as though born with the gift of survival.
Her eyes like big black beads track
my steps and wait for my defeat.
I rally my strength and begin to search,
without the help of hounds
like those in the forest
sniffing me out as I swallowed
my coughing, huddled deep in the snow,
barely breathing, limbs freezing.
“Naomi! Where are you?” and she answers
“Maybe in the bathroom.” Absolute silence.
“Naomi, how will I tell your mother
that you’ve disappeared?” She ignores me.
In the silent house the search continues.
Naomi is patient and silent.
Only later after many guesses, only
after I admit in despair, “Naomi is lost,”
only then, victorious, she calls -
“Granny! I’m here!”
“Again!” she pleads, but I escape
with the promise of a treat –
and an explanation, “You know, Naomi,
Granny’s tired of hide and seek.”
Translated by Riva Rubin