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"the house" - A Long Poem

"the house" - A Long Poem


Translator’s Note: Avot Yeshurun’s (1904–92) “ha-bayeet” (the house) is a textured polyglot long-poem that moves between multiple idiolectal slangs and inflections across Hebrew, Yiddish, Arabic, and Aramaic registers, in a haunting chronicle of Zionist urban renewal. Yeshurun’s poetic thinking enacts an ongoing translational event in this work, perpetually in the midst of code-switching as a mode of sociolinguistic and aesthetic rupture. “home tongue / earthquake,” he writes, in the final section of the poem, “sometimes the voice / it’s a / garbage can / & sometimes a / delicate presence.” Language acquisition for Yeshurun, like urban renewal, is somewhere halfway between production and destruction—between the newly built and the already (or soon to be) demolished. The translingual poetics of “ha-bayeet” serves, in these terms, as a (po)ethical imperative to give voice to this destruction, as “an instance of the re- / novated house, that’s still / in mourning holes.”

The Hebrew text is published here by courtesy of Helit Yeshurun and Hakibbutz Hame’uchad-Sifriat Poalim Publishing House, Israel.

berdichevsky house[1]

berdichevsky house




they’re coming to renovate.

first off

comes a bulldozer

& smashes

the cornice. that’s

the first thing.

they who removed

the cornice, who pulled-off

the facade

of the house, the builders

attached—as a model

of what had been—

the front


there dvoyrele[2]

is seen who hated

the neighbors

“including you”

& her mother whose husband

divorced & wandered

to the ends of America

to become a cantor.

all this

spilled out w/

the mortar & plaster

& the soot into piles

of rubble from the skeleton

house number

four. & the house

remains like a skeleton

of bones, w/out

internal organs.

house w/

gaps that were

once doors.

holes that were

once windows.

the house looks

like a guy w/

long legs

white in underpants.

enjoying the breeze

bare from all

sides supported.

heats & materials

the human sounds


than the material sounds.

the people pace

bent like walking

on all fours

on the roof

inspecting & groping

in ancient prejudice.

& the material sounds,

in hammer & gravel

a free hand.

when the air is thin

or a blind one

passes. & when thick—

a ribbon of horns.

the shadow that hid

in the cavities of the house

began to look out

from the house to the street.

the human sounds


the material sounds—

their knowledge tamed.

came took

gravel—& threw away

came took

binder—& threw away.

ran bringing

mortar—& poured out.

ran bringing

sand—& poured out.

came bringing

water—& poured out.

the cylinder poured out

a bucket of mixture

one above

one below.

raised up above

threw away below.

filled up above

threw away below.

the workers divided

in equal portions

the mixture

on the roof

w/ no shortchanging.

& smoothed-it-out.

the crows in morning

bringing food

from source to source

to the hatchlings.

this one fills

& this one lifts.

this one fills

& this one lifts.

one raises up,

one throws away.

one raises up,

one throws away.

bit by bit

the house is flipped

a factory

in & of itself.

no need

for the street’s mercy.

its walls scabbed

silicate brick.

skeletal sounds

till now

the skeletal sounds

bare nude

as before

the start to archeology.

but they raged

cement-mixer mechanisms

w/ the cylinder,

& cast

the roof, & cast

the shadow

to the walls of

the house. beams

& stakes. flat

staves. after

they cast the

roof, they cast


the skies’ names

of the roof.

today were heard

carpenter hammers’

sounds & blacksmith

hammers’ sounds













       to land

a blow






silence of

miracles & wonders.

people on

the roof pace

as shadows. as sounds.

hammer dents

in a verse of

two hard

words & three

short ones. dialogue

of the hammer & the material.

outstretched like a woman

in expectation.

today they banged

w/ carpenter hammers

smooth & vulnerable

w/ secret blows

as on planed

staves in a planer.

not nails

in a big head

& not nails

in a small head,

one beside

the other click-clack.

today begins

forming silence

of the rooms w/

each pleasure

of first brick

begins the veiling

it kept to itself

each room

isolated it

-self from the noise.

but the house

demanded of itself.

blacksmiths banged—

& saw it was

good. carpenters

banged—& saw

it was good.

every thing

& saw it was

very good.

but the house

demanded of itself.

rose from roof

twd roof,

from wood twd

wood. resurrection

of the road w/

the construction process.

the roof at night

the roof at night

looks like a boidem[3]

or cabin

in the vineyards in 1932

like in bayt-dajan[4]

in ayun-kara[5] in cloudy

skies, just

to dream by them.

clouds to drift-off

by them. to seek

my soul’s

love in the vineyard.[6]

the floor

cast floor

wanted to return,

pushed back.

no need.

banged the slant—

sideways. banged

the supports—sideways.

banged the posts.

when they had

a task, there was

grace, & when not

none. now

one heap

resembles one.

each one,

technical & spiritual.

took uniforms

& went home.

took language,

& voiced sound.

plank floor

brought closer to the edge.

bent back.

wanted to return.

once & twice

wanted to return.

banged outside:

no need.

the wood expelled.

no trees,

& not animals.

but foundations.[7]


was perfect.

the acoustics of

berdichevsky street—

like heichal ha-tarbut.[8]

sirens—we hear.

what in the house

between man

& wife—we hear.

what people

buy at the store—

we hear

on the street.

the house demanded

of itself all

the beams, all

the supports

from the wood below

to the wood above,

bent as a

man bears

a surface of planks

on which they cast

an upper roof.

bent to erect

to pull back

once inside

once ahead

once in midst.

straight ahead

erected back.

to support the gravel


as beams supporting

a curve of sky

so too at a slant

in the universe supports.

as a horse standing

on hind legs

as hands in a tallis

during priestly prayer.[9]

as a horse stops

insisting on its front

& w/ hind legs

pushing fwd.

bound in grief

all the beams

& supports & plank

floors were bound

& packed & thrown.

like in the vineyards

in 1932, at the end

of harvest, the guards

took a man

’s parcel & he went

home on paths

length- & width-wise[10]

between vineyards,

between shrubs,

of grape clusters

the guards went & returned

the franks[11]

to their houses in rishon

l’tzion[12] w/ one

room & one

bed & frankenia.[13]

all the beams,

all the supports

were packed in a rope

& thrown below.

even w/out

apprehending that one

of them wd evade

returning to the prior

status. discarded

one by one,

voiced in protest.

rose in upheaval.

no help


no voice

& no answer.

in a moment

a car disappeared

w/ beams

& supports.

the workers sat

to eat. looked like

a day of celebration[14]

for them. their hats

one moment cluster

together one to the other.

drank water

from bottle & corked.

they lowered

the bell’s a hammer

& the house a crystal.

the house rings

& the hammer performs.

the hammer’s a chatterbox

& house drowned-out.

they’ve already lowered

the crane.

the wall dweller

finished placing

a line till


settled on

the wall as one sits

on the pot.

this is the beginning of

man in the house.

man in a renovated

house. began

the man to live

in the house.

bit by bit

the house put on

white bricks

like a white nightshirt

as a woman stretching

to uncover a head

of circuit ends

to the consumption of flesh.

he who is merciful cannot give mercy

tonight we see

quadrangle rhythm:

hand head

hand foot.

like the wall

of the catholic

church in krasnystaw[15]

from the XVII century.

all this

an instance of the re-

novated house, that’s still

in mourning holes:

uncovered in the uppers

covered in the lowers

from krasnystaw

till here.

krasnystaw house

in tel aviv

i loved houses

till they were destroyed

& built anew.

i’m sorry they’re destroyed

the old i’ve forgotten.

if i forget thee

krasnystaw house.

the landlords


renovated the house.

they’re the landlords[16]

& who opposes them?

the neighbor fears

the lawyers.

they removed the fence

to half the sidewalk.

public domain!

theft of community!

the law of the land

is the law.[17]of of disturbers’

it’s law—justice?

the neighbor fears

re-moving back.

to start-up w/ them.

a pensioner’s fear

of lawyers.

retiree & bald

worthless asshole.

the law uprooted?

there’s a law

wd uproot a tree.

if uprooted

the law’s tree

or a tree

the law

it wd uproot,

so to say.

there’s verdict

of uprooting trees.

if verdict

wd uproot the

tree, or

the tree wd uproot

the verdict,

so to say.

stands a tree

in mid-sidewalk.

wd it uproot the verdict,

so to say?

today heard

today heard

a bird

pecking a branch

to find a worm.


than water


than time.

no past

no present

no future

there’s time.

tune this

into yr heart.

go home

& rest & don’t

talk anymore

of abundant blessings.

& ask

yair hurvitz.[18]

it’s the house

the house dressed itself

white from legs

& body’s beginning

till the chin.

i started w/ this

that a woman stretching

a nightshirt from the head

at the body’s end.

now the nightshirt

till the chin.

b/c the house

it’s a woman.

sliced from the stairs & w/ all the stairs

one day a door sliced the second-story

& the whole sand-loam-concrete floor rose & shifted & moved

& spilled & fled & was thrown from the stairs & w/ the stairs.

the room on the second-story remained lit in the sun as before in wood’s ­supports naked

as before.

from whence was this taken?

from where does it derive?

what’s it called?

what’s it say?[19]

however much

however much

i do not

pass on

the house it’s

still wrecked

as dvoyrele’s image

in holes & in the door

& the hole in the cement-mixer.

the house resembles

a box made of matches

that we hear only

open & close.

the house is quiet.

casting solidifies.

everything dries.

the cement-mixer w/

a frail circumcised

organ erects

wretched w/

a hole in the belly.

the house at the time

of its building appears

all the time

increasingly destroyed.

each patch

they add to it—

an accent of debris.

how wrecked!

4th of Sivan 5749 to 4th of Tishrei Tashan, June 7 to October 2, 1989

home tongue

home tongue


sometimes the voice

it’s a

garbage can

& sometimes a

delicate presence.

return from life.

from hot prayer

return twd

the simple things

more ordinary:

the house looks out

still eye-holed

from dvoyrele’s

door spilt

earth floor

outside & the doors

sway in agony

open as extended

hands. in the book

hid a prayer

to god that disclosed

to them the ancients.

the ancients thought

-up god to them

to give

order to what.

22nd of Tevet Tashan, January 19, 1990


בֶּרְדִּיצֶ'בְסְקִי בַּיִת

בַּיִת בֶּרְדִּיצֶ'בְסְקִי




בָּאִים לְשַׁפֵּץ.

קֹדֶם כֹּל

בָּא בֻּלְדֹזֶר

וְנָתַץ אֶת

הַכַּרְכֹּב. זֶה

דָּבָר רִאשֹׁן.

מִשֶּׁהֹרִידֻ אֶת

הַכַּרְכֹּב, מִשֶּׁעָקְרֻ

אֶת חֲזִית

הַבַּיִת, הִצְמִידֻ

הַמְשַׁפְּצִים – כְּדֻגְמָא

לְמַה שֶּׁהָיָה –

אֶת דֶּלֶת


שָׁם דְּבֹיְרֶ'לֶה

נִרְאֵית שֶׁשָּׂנְאָה

אֶת הַשְּׁכֵנִים,

"כֹּלֵל אַתָּה",

וְאִמָּהּ שֶׁבַּעְלָהּ

הִתְגָּרֵשׁ וְנָדַד

לְמֶרְחַקֵּי אֲמֵרִיקָה

לִהְיֹת חַזָּן.

כָּל זֶה

נִשְׁפַּךְ עִם

הַטִּיט וְהַטִּיחַ

וְהַפִּיחַ לְעִיֵּי

הַחֲרָבַת שֶׁלֶד

הַבַּיִת מִסְפַּר

אַרְבַּע. וְהַבַּיִת

נִשְׁאַר כְּשֶׁלֶד

עֲצָמֹת, בְּלִי

אֵיבְרֵי עִכֻּל.

בַּיִת עִם

רְוָחִים שֶׁהָיֻ

פַּעַם דְּלָתֹת.

חֹרִים שֶׁהָיֻ

פַּעַם חַלֹּנֹת.

הַבַּיִת נִרְאֶה

כְּגֶבֶר עִם

רַגְלַיִם אֲרֻכֹּת,

לְבָנֹת בְּתַחְתֹּנִים.

נֶהֱנֶה מֵאֲוִיר

צַח מִכָּל

צַד נִתְמָךְ.

חַמִּים וְחָמְרִיִּים

הַקֹּלֹת הָאֱנֹשִיִּים

יֹתֵר שְׁקֵטִים

מֵהַקֹּלֹת הַחָמְרִיִּים.

הָאֲנָשִׁים מִתְהַלְּכִים

כְּפֻפִים כְּהֹלְכֵי

עַל אַרְבַּע

עַל הַגָּג

בֹּדְקִים וּמְמַשְׁמְשִׁים

בְּדֵעָה קְדֻמָה.

וְהַקֹּלֹת הַחָמְרִיִּים,

בְּפַטִּישׁ וּבְחָצָץ,

יָד חָפְשִׁית.

כְּשֶׁהָאֲוִיר דָּלִיל

אוֹ עִוֵּר

עֹבֵר. וּכְשֶׁעָבֶה –

סֶרֶט קַרְנַיִם.

הַצֵּל שֶׁהִסְתַּגֵּר

בְּהֶחְלֵל הַבַּיִת,

הִתְחִיל לְהִסְתַּכֵּל

מֵהַבַּיִת לָרְחֹב.

הַקֹּלֹת הָאֱנֹשִיִּים

מַחְמְלֵי לֵב.

הַקֹּלֹת הַחָמְרִיִּים –

דַּעְתָּם מִתְבַּיֶּתֶת.

בָּא לָקַח

חָצָץ – וְזָרַק

בָּא לָקַח

זִיפְזִיף – וְזָרַק.

רָץ מֵבִיא

מֶלֶט – וְשָׁפַךְ.

רָץ מֵבִיא

חֹל – וְשָׁפַךְ.

בָּא מֵבִיא

מַיִם – וְשָׁפַךְ.

הַצִּילִינְדֶּר שָׁפַךְ

דְּלִי תַּעֲרֹבֶת

אֶחָד לְמַעְלָה

אֶחָד לְמַטָּה.

הֵרִים לְמַעְלָה

זָרַק לְמַטָּה.

מִלֵּא לְמַעְלָה

זָרַק לְמַטָּה.

הַפֹּעֲלִים חִלְּקֻ

שָׁוֶה בְּשָׁוֶה

אֶת הַתַּעֲרֹבֶת

עַל הַגָּג

וְלֹא קִפְּחֻ.

וְיִשְּׁרֻ הַכֹּל.

הָעֹרְבִים בַּבֹּקֶר

מְבִיאִים מָזֹן

מִמַּקֹּר לְמַקֹּר

לִבְנֵי עֹרֵב.

זֶה מְמַלֵּא

וְזֶה מֵנִיף.

זֶה מְמַלֵּא

וְזֶה מֵנִיף.

אֶחָד מֵרִים,

אֶחָד זֹרֵק.

אֶחָד מֵרִים,

אֶחָד זֹרֵק.

לְאַט לְאַט

הֹפֵךְ הַבַּיִת

בֵּית חֲרֹשֶת

שֶׁל עַצְמוֹ.

לֹא זָקֻק

לְרַחֲמֵי הָרְחֹב.

קִירֹתָיו הִגְלִידֻ

לִבְנֵי סִילִיקַט.

שִׁלְדֵי קֹלֹת

עַד עַכְשָׁו

שִׁלְדֵי הַקֹּלֹת

חֲשֻׂפִים עֲרֻמִּים

כְּאִלֻּ לִפְנֵי

הַכְנָסָה לְאַרְכֵאֹלֹגְיָה.

אֲבָל סָעֲרֻ

מְכֹנֹת הַמְעַרְבֵּל

עִם הַצִּילִינְדֶּר,

וְיָצְקֻ אֶת

הַגָּג, וְיָצְקֻ

אֶת הַצֵּל

לְקִירֹתָיו שֶׁל

הַבַּיִת. תְּמֹכֹת

וּסְמֹכֹת. מִשְׁטַח

קְרָשִׁים. אַחַר

שֶׁיָּצְקֻ אֶת

הַגָּג, יָצְקֻ

הַיֹּם אֶת

שְׁמֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם

שֶׁל הַגָּג.

הַיֹּם נִשְׁמְעֻ

קֹלֹת פַּטִּישֵׁי

נַגָּרִים וְקֹלֹת

פַּטִּישֵׁי נַפָּחִים





















נִסִּים וּמֹפְתִים.

אֲנָשִׁים עַל

הַגָּג מִתְהַלְּכִים

כִּצְלָלִים. כִּצְלִילִים.

דְּפִיקֹת בְּפַטִּישׁ

בְּפָסֻק שֶׁל

שְׁתֵּי מִלִּים

חֲזָקֹת וְשָׁלֹש

קְצָרֹת. דֻּשִׂיחַ

הַפַּטִּישׁ וְהַחֹמֶר.

הַשָּׂרֻעַ כְּאִשָּׁה

בִּשְׁעַת יִעֻדָהּ.

הַיֹּם דָּפְקֻ

בְּפַטִּישֵׁי נַגָּרִים

חֲלָקִים וַחֲשֻׂפִים

בִּדְפִיקֹת סֵתֶר

כְּעַל קְרָשִׁים

מֻקְצָעִים בְּמַקְצֻעָה.

לֹא מַסְמְרִים

בְּרֹאשׁ גָּדֹל,

וְלֹא מַסְמְרִים

בְּרֹאשׁ קָטָן,

אֶחָד לְיַד

הַשֵּׁנִי טְלְיַאק־טְלְיַאק.

הַיֹּם הֵחֵלָּה

לְהִוָּצֵר דִּמְמַת

הַחֲדָרִים עִם

כָּל הַנָּחַת

לְבֵנָה רִאשֹׁנָה

מַתְחִילָה הַהַצְעָפָה

הַשְּׁמֻרָה לְעַצְמוֹ

כָּל חֶדֶר

וּבֹדֶלֶת אֶת

עַצְמָהּ מֵרַעַשׁ.

אַךְ הַבַּיִת

דָּרַשׁ מֵעַצְמוֹ.

דָּפְקֻ נַפָּחִים –

וַיַּרְא כִּי

טֹב. דָּפְקֻ

נַגָּרִים – וַיַּרְא

כִּי טֹב.

כָּל דָּבָר

וַיַּרְא כִּי

טֹב מְאֹד.

אַךְ הַבַּיִת

דָּרַשׁ מֵעַצְמוֹ.

עָלָה מִגַּג

אֶל גַּג,

מִיַּעַר אֶל

יַעַר. הִתְחַיֻּת

הָרְחֹב עִם

תַּהֲלִיךְ הַבְּנִיָּה.

הַגָּג בַּלַּיְלָה

הַגָּג בַּלַּיְלָה

נִרְאֶה כְּבֹּיְדְם

אוֹ כִּמְלֻנָה

בַּכְּרָמִים בְּ־1932

כְּמוֹ בְּבֵּית־דֶּגַ'ן

בַּעֲיֻן־קָרָא בְּשָׁמַיִם

מְעֻנָּנִים, רַק

לַחֲלֹם בָּהֶם.

עֲנָנִים לָנֻם

בָּהֶם. לְבַקֵּשׁ

אֶת שֶׁאָהֲבָה

נַפְשִׁי בַּכֶּרֶם.


רִצְפַּת יְצִיקָה

רָצְתָה לַחֲזֹר,

דְּחָפוּהָ חֲזָרָה.

לֹא צָרִיךְ.

דָּפְקֻ הָאֲלַכְסֹן –

הַצִּדָּה. דָּפְקֻ

הַתֹּמְכִים – הַצִּדָּה.

דָּפְקֻ הַסֹּמְכִים.

כְּשֶׁהָיָה לָהֶם

תַּפְקִיד הָיָה

חֵן, וּכְשֶׁאֵין –

אֵין. עַכְשָׁו

עֲרֵמָה אַחַת

דֹּמָה לְאֶחָד.

כָּל אֶחָד,

הַטֶּכְנִי וְהָרֻחָנִי.

לָקְחֻ מַדִּים

וְהָלְכֻ הַבַּיְתָה.

לָקְחֻ שָׂפָה,

הִשְׁמִיעֻ קֹל.

רִצְפַּת קְרָשִׁים,

קֵרְבֻהָ לַקָּצֶה.

הִתְכֹּפְפָה אָחֹרָה.

רָצְתָה לַחֲזֹר.

פַּעַם וּפַעֲמַיִם

רָצְתָה לַחֲזֹר.

דְּפָקֻהָ הַחֻצָה:

לֹא צָרִיךְ.

הַיַּעַר טֹהַר.

אֵין עֵצִים,

וְלֹא חַיֹּת.

יֵשׁ מֹסְדֹת.


הָיָה מֻשְׁלָם.

הָאֲקֻסְטִיקָה שֶׁל

רְחֹב בֶּרְדִּיצֶ'בְסְקִי –

כְּהֵיכַל הַתַּרְבֻּת.

צְפִירָה – שֹׁמְעִים.

מַה שֶּׁבַּבַּיִת

בֵּין אִישׁ

לְאִשְׁתּוֹ – שֹׁמְעִים.

מַה שֶּׁאֲנָשִׁים

קֹנִים בַּחֲנֻת –

שֹׁמְעִים אֶת

זֶה בָּרְחֹב.

הַבַּיִת דָּרַשׁ

מֵעַצְמוֹ כָּל

הַתְּמֹכֹת, כָּל


מִיַּעַר מִלְּמַטָּה

לְיַעַר מִלְּמַעְלָה,

הִתְכֹּפְפֻ כְּאִישׁ

אֶחָד לָשֵׂאת

מִשְׁטַח קְרָשִׁים

שֶׁעָלָיו יָצְקֻ

גַּג עֶלְיֹן.

הִתְכֹּפְפֻ לְזָקֻף

לִמְשֹׁךְ אָחֹרָה

פַּעַם לְפָנִימָה

פַּעַם לְקָדִימָה

פַּעַם בְּאֶמְצַע.

יָשָׁר קָדִימָה

זָקֻף אָחֹרָה.

לִתְמֹךְ בְּגַג

הַזִּיפְזִיף – כֵּיצַד?

כַּקַּרְנַיִם תֹּמְכֹת

בֶּעָקֹם בָּרָקִיעַ,

כֵּן בַּאֲלַכְסֹן

בַּיְקֻם סֹמְכֹת.

כְּסֻס עֹמֵד

בְּרַגְלַיִם אֲחֹרִיֹּת

כְּיָדַיִם בְּטַלִּית

בְּבִרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים.

כְּסֻס עֹצֵר

מִתְעַקֵּשׁ בְּקִדְמִיֹּת

וּבְרַגְלַיִם אֲחֹרִיֹּת

דֹּחֵף קָדִימָה.

תֻּכְרְכֻ בְּתֻגָּה

כָּל הַתְּמֹכֹת

וְהַסְּמֹכֹת וְרִצְפֹּת

הַקְּרָשִׁים תֻּכְרְכֻ

וְנֶאֶרְזֻ וְהֻשְׁלְכֻ.

כְּמוֹ בַּכְּרָמִים

ב-1932, בִּגְמַר

הַבָּצִיר, לָקְחֻ

הַשֹּׁמְרִים אִישׁ

חֲבִילָתוֹ וְהָלַךְ

הַבַּיְתָה בַּמִּשְׁעֹלִים

לָאֹרֶךְ וְלַרֹחַב

בֵּין הַכְּרָמִים

בֵּין הַשִּׂיחִים

הַגְּמֻלִים מְאֶשְׁכֹּל

הָלְכֻ וְחָזְרֻ

הַשֹּׁמְרִים הַפְרֶנְקִים

לְבָתֵּיהֶם בְּרִאשֹׁן

לְצִיֹּן בְּחֶדֶר

אֶחָד וּמִטָּה

אַחַת, וּפְרֶנְקִינְיֶה.

כָּל הַתְּמֹכֹת,

כָּל הַסְּמֹכֹת,

נֶאֶרְזֻ בְּחֶבֶל

וְהֻשְׁלְכֻ לְמַטָּה.

אֲפִלֻּ מִבְּלִי

לַחְשֹׁש שֶׁאַחַת

מֵהֶן תִּתְחַמֵּק

לָשֻׁב לַמַּעֲמָד

הַקֹּדֵם. הֻשְׁלְכֻ

אַחַת אַחַת,

הִשְׁמִיעֻ מְחָאָה.

יָצְאֻ בִּטְרַאסְק.

לֹא עָזַר

לָהֶן כְּלֻם.

אֵין קֹל

וְאֵין עֹנֶה.

כַּעֲבֹר רֵגַע

מְכֹנִית נֶעֶלְמָה

עִם הַתְּמֹכֹת

וְעִם הַסְּמֹכֹת.

הַפֹּעֲלִים יָשְׁבֻ

לֶאֱכֹל. נִרְאֶה

יֹם גְּנֻסְיָה

לָהֶם. כֹּבְעֵיהֶם

רֵגַע צְפֻפִים

זֶה לָזֶה.

שָׁתֻ מַיִם

מִבַּקְבֻּק וּפְקָק.


הַפַּטִּישׁ פַּעֲמֹן

וְהַבַּיִת בְּדֹלַח.

הַבַּיִת מְצַלְצֵל

וְהַפַּטִּישׁ מְנַגֵּן.

הַפַּטִּישׁ פַּטְפְּטָן

וְהַבַּיִת מַחֲרִישׁ.

כְּבָר הֹרִידֻ

אֶת הַמָּנֹף.

הַיֹּשֵב עַל הַקִּיר

גָּמְרֻ לְהַנִּיחַ

שֻׁרָה עַד

אֶדֶן הַחַלֹּן,

הִתְיַשְּׁבֻ עַל

הַקִּיר כְּיֹשֵב

עַל הַסִּיר.

זֶה רֵאשִׁית

אָדָם בַּבַּיִת.

אָדָם בַּבַּיִת

הַמְשֻׁפָּץ. הִתְחִיל

אָדָם לָגֻר


לְאַט לְאַט

לָבַשׁ הַבַּיִת

לְבֵנִים לְבָנֹת

כְּכֻתֹּנֶת לְבָנָה.

כְּאִשָּׁה מֹתַחַת

לְגָלֻי רֹאשׁ

עֲגֻלֵּי סֹף

לִגְמַר הַבָּשָׂר.

הֻא רַחֻם לֹא יָכֹל לִהְיֹת מְרַחֵם

הַלַּיְלָה רֹאִים

רִתְם מְרֻבָּע:

יָד רֹאשׁ

יָד רֶגֶל.

כְּמוֹ הַקִּיר

שֶׁל הַכְּנֵסִיָּה

הַקָּתֹלִית בִּקְרַסְנִיסְטַאוו

מֵהַמֵּאָה הַ־XVII.

כָּל זֶה

דֻּגְמָא לַבַּיִת

הַמְשֻׁפָּץ, שֶׁעֲדַיִן

בְּחֹרִים אֲבֵלִים:

מְגֻלֶּה בְּעֶלְיֹנִים

מְכֻסֶּה בְּתַחְתֹּנִים,

מִן קְרַסְנִיסְטַאוו

עַד הֵנָּה.

קְרַסְנִיסְטַאוו בַּיִת

בְּתֵל אָבִיב

אָהַבְתִּי בָּתִּים

עַד שֶׁנֶּהֶרְסֻ

וְנִבְנֻ מֵחָדָשׁ.

הִצְטַעַרְתִּי שֶׁנֶּהֶרְסֻ

הַיָּשָׁן שָׁכַחְתִּי.

לֻ שָׁכַחְתִּי

קְרַסְנִיסְטַאוו בַּיִת.


עֹרְכֵי דִּין

שִׁפְּצֻ הַבַּיִת.

הֵם הַבַּלֶבָּתִּים –

וּמִי כְּנֶגְדָּם?

הַשָּׁכֵן יָרֵא

מְעֹרְכֵי דִּין.

הֹצִיאֻ הַגָּדֵר

לַחֲצִי הַמִּדְרָכָה.

רְשֻׁת הָרַבִּים!

גֶּזֶל הַצִּבֻּר!

דִּינָא דְּמַלְכֻתָא

דִּינָא. דְּ עֹ כְ רֵ י

דִּינָהּ – דִּינָא?

יָרֵא הַשָּׁכֵן

לְהָזִיז חֲזָרָה.

לְהַתְחִיל אִתָּם.

פַּחַד פֶּנְסְיֹנֶר

מְעֹרְכֵי דִּין.

גִּמְלַאי וְקָרַחַת

שָׁוִים לַתַּחַת.

הֲיַעֲקֹר הַדִּין

יֵשׁ חֹק

עֵץ יַעֲקֹר.

אִם יַעֲקֹר

עֵץ הַחֹק,

אוֹ עֵץ

אֶת הַחֹק,

הֻא יַעֲקֹר,

זֹאת אֹמֶרֶת.

יֵשׁ דִּין

עֲקִירַת עֵצִים.

אִם דִּין

יַעֲקֹר אֶת

הָעֵץ, אוֹ

הָעֵץ יַעֲקֹר

אֶת הַדִּין,

זֹאת אֹמֶרֶת.

עֹמֵד עֵץ

בְּאֶמְצַע הַמִּדְרָכָה.

הֲיַעֲקֹר הַדִּין,

זֹאת אֹמֶרֶת.

הַיֹּם שָׁמְעֻ

הַיֹּם שָׁמְעֻ

כְּמוֹ צִפֹּר

מְנַקֶּרֶת בֶּעָנָף

לִמְצֹא תֹּלַעַת.





אֵין עָבָר,

אֵין הֹוֶה,

אֵין עָתִיד,

יֵשׁ זְמַן.

שִׂימִי זֹאת

לְתֹךְ לִבֵּךְ.

לְכִי הַבַּיְתָה

וְתָנֻחִי וְאַל

תְּדַבְּרִי עֹד

מִשֶּׁפַע הַבְּרָכָה.

וְתִשְׁאֲלִי אֶת

יָאִיר הוּרְבִיץ.

זֶה הַבַּיִת

הַבַּיִת הִתְלַבֵּשׁ

לָבָן מֵהָרַגְלַיִם

וִיסֻד הַגֻּף

עַד הַסַּנְטֵר.

הִתְחַלְתִּי בָּזֹאת

שֶׁאִשָּׁה מֹתַחַת

כֻּתֹּנֶת מֵהָרֹאשׁ

בְּסֹף הַגֻּף.

עַכְשָׁו הַכֻּתֹּנֶת

עַד הַסַּנְטֵר.

כִּי הַבַּיִת

זֶה אִשָּׁה.

נִפְלְחָה מִן הַמַּדְרֵגֹת וְעִם כָּל הַמַּדְרֵגֹת

יֹם אֶחָד נִפְלְחָה דֶּלֶת הַקֹּמָה הַשְׁנִיָּה

וְכָל רִצְפַּת הַחֹל־חַמְרָה־בֶּטֹן הִתְרֹמְמָה וְזָעָה וְזָזָה

וְנִשְׁפְּכָה וּבָרְחָה וְנִזְרְקָה מִן הַמַּדְרֵגֹת וְעִם הַמַּדְרֵגֹת.

הַחֶדֶר שֶׁבַּקֹּמָה הַשְּׁנִיָּה נִשְׁאַר מֻאָר בַּשֶּׁמֶשׁ כְּמִקֹּדֶם בִּסְמֹכֹת הָעֵץ הָעֵירֻמֹּת


פֻן וַואנֶען נֶמְט זִיךְ דָאס?

מֵאַיִן זֶה נֹבֵעַ?

וָואס הַיְיסְט?

מַה זֹּאת אֹמֶרֶת?

כָּל כַּמָּה

כָּל כַּמָּה

שֶׁאֲנִי לֹא

עֹבֵר עַל

הַבַּיִת הֻא

עֲדַיִן חֻרְבָּה

שֶׁדְּמֻת דְּבֹיְרֶ'לֶה

בְּחֹרִים וּבַדֶּלֶת

וְהַחֹר בַּמְעַרְבֵּל.

הַבַּיִת דֹּמֶה

לְקֻפְסָה מִגַּפְרֻרִים

שֶׁשֹּׁמְעִים רַק

כִּפְתֹחַ וְכִסְגֹר.

הַבַּיִת שָׁקֵט.

נָח מִיצִיקָה.

הַכֹּל מִתְיַבֵּשׁ.

הַמְעַרְבֵּל עִם

אֵבֶר מִילָה

חִוֵּר עֹמֵד

עָלֻב עִם

חֹר בַּבֶּטֶן.

הַבַּיִת בִּזְמַן

בְּנִיָּתוֹ נִרְאֶה

כָּל הַזְּמַן

הֹלֵךְ וְנֶהֱרָס.

כָּל טְלַאי

שֶׁמֹּסִיפִים לוֹ –

הַדְגָּשַׁת הֶהָרֻס.

כַּמָּה הָרֻס!

ד סיון תשמט – ד תשרי תשן, 7 יוני – 2 אוקטובר 1989

שְׂפַת הַבַּיִת

שְׂפַת הַבַּיִת

רְעִידַת אֲדָמָה.

לִפְעָמִים הַקֹּל

הֻא שֶׁל

קֻפְסַת פַּח

וְלִפְעָמִים זֶה

נוֹכְחֻת עֲדִינָה.

חֹזְרִים מֵהַחַיִּים.

מִתְּפִלָּה חַמָּה

חֹזְרִים אֶל

הַדְּבָרִים הַפְּשֻׁטִים

שֶׁיֹּתֵר מְצֻיִים:

הַבַּיִת מַבִּיט

עֹד בְּחֹרִים עֵינַיִם.

מֵהַדֶּלֶת שֶׁל

דְּבֹיְרֶ'לֶה נִשְׁפְּכָה

רִצְפַּת הֶעָפָר

הַחֻצָה וְהַדְּלָתֹת

מִתְנֹדְדֹת בִּדְוַי

פְּתֻחֹת כְּיָדַיִם

פְּשֻׁטֹת. בַּסֵּפֶר

טְמֻנָה תְּפִלָּה

לַאדֹנָי שֶׁחָשְׂפֻ

לָהֶם קַדְמֹנִים.

הַקַּדְמֹנִים חָשְׁבֻ

לָהֶם אֱלֹהִים

לְמַעַן לָתֵת

מַשְׁמָעֻת לַמַּהֻת.

כב טבת תשן, 19 ינואר 1990

  1. I use lowercase throughout my translation in stylistic echo of Yeshurun’s nonstandard Hebrew. ↩

  2. Yiddish diminutive of Deborah. ↩

  3. Yiddish for “attic.” ↩

  4. Bayt Dajan (also known as Dajūn) was a Palestinian Arab village six kilometers outside Yaffo. On April 25, 1948, as part of the actions and reactions leading up to the Arab-Israeli War, the village was entirely depopulated. The Israeli town of Beyt Dagan was erected on the same site in 1948. ↩

  5. The Arab village of Ayun Kara (eight kilometers south of Tel Aviv) was the site of a bloody battle between Turkish troops and the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade on November 14, 1917. ↩

  6. Echoes Song of Songs 3:1: “I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not” (KJV). ↩

  7. Echoes Jeremiah 31:37: “Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD” (KJV). ↩

  8. Hebrew for “the Culture Palace,” referring to the largest concert hall in Tel Aviv, just a few minutes’ walk from where Yeshurun lived on Berdichevsky Street. ↩

  9. The priestly prayer or priestly blessing, also known in rabbinic sources as the “raising of the hands,” is a Hebrew prayer which Jews of the priestly order (Kohanim) recite to this day. During the course of the prayer, the Kohen spreads his hands out over the congregation with the fingers of both hands separated so as to make four spaces between them. Each Kohen’s tallis (Hebrew/Yiddish, “prayer shawl”) is draped over his head and hands so that the congregation cannot see his hands while the blessing is being said. ↩

  10. Echoes Genesis 13:17: “Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee” (KJV). ↩

  11. Derogatory Hebrew term for North African and Middle Eastern French-speaking Jews, generally associated with an East European Jewish prejudice against African and Middle Eastern Jews. ↩

  12. Rishon L’Tzion (Hebrew, literally, “The First to Zion”) is the fourth-largest city in contemporary Israel and was founded in 1882 by Jewish immigrants from the Russian Empire; they purchased land that had previously been townland of the Arab village of Ayun Kara in order to establish an early Zionist settlement. ↩

  13. A particular shrub genus in the Frankeniaceae family of flowering plants. ↩

  14. Yeshurun uses the Aramaic phrase yom genusya here, a Talmudic term for a birthday or coronation (of a king). ↩

  15. Krasnystaw, a town in present-day eastern Poland, was Yeshurun’s hometown and the place he left behind when he moved to Palestine in 1925. ↩

  16. Yeshurun uses the Yiddish term balebosim here, which might also be translated as “masters” or “overlords” but also “hosts.” ↩

  17. Yeshurun quotes the Talmudic Aramaic phrase dina d’malkhuta dina here, referring to the Jewish rabbinical law (halakhah) that the law of the country is binding and in some cases even overrules Jewish law. ↩

  18. Yair Hurvitz (1941–88) was a poet who was active in the Hebrew poetry scene in Tel Aviv from the early 1960s until his abrupt death in 1988. ↩

  19. Yeshurun performs a code-switching here between Yiddish and Hebrew, writing the first and third lines of the quatrain in Yiddish and the second and fourth in Hebrew. Each Hebrew line appears to roughly translate the Yiddish line above it, subverting the traditional relationship between the two languages, where Hebrew is treated as primary and Yiddish as secondary. ↩