Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Precise Woman - Y. Amichai

Amichai is regarded as Israel's best modern poet in a life that also included being a soldier in three of his country's last four wars and a professor of literature.  His writing is ironic and direct, the imagery unforgettable.  Reading his poems about war and love is profoundly affecting and helpful in understanding Israel (and Israelis) a little better.  I had the privilege of meeting him when he was in Philadelphia a couple of years before his death from cancer in 2000. In this one, the last verse, particularly the last line, always brings a smile.   
A Precise Woman

                                                                      (transl. from Hebrew)

A precise woman with a short haircut brings order
to my thoughts and my dresser drawers,
moves feelings around like furniture
into a new arrangement.
A woman whose body is cinched at the waist and firmly divided
into upper and lower,
with weather-forecast eyes
of shatterproof glass.
Even her cries of passion follow a certain order,
one after the other:
tame dove, then wild dove,
then peacock, wounded peacock, peacock, peacock,
the wild dove, tame dove, dove dove
thrush, thrush, thrush.

A precise woman: on the bedroom carpet
her shoes always point away from the bed.
(My own shoes point toward it.) 

Yehuda Amichai (Jewish)  

No comments: