The Arty Semite

POEM: 'Hebrew, My Love'

By Tuvia Ruebner

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Translated by Rachel Tzvia Back

It’s been a lifetime together.
Fifty years? Sixty? How many?

We were never like that coiled knot
only the slash of the sword could undo.
I turned my back on you.
You turned your back on me
though still we pulled toward each other like magnets to the pole
like the moon and the tides.

I conjugated at your will, I accepted your grammared sentences
I queried your roots,
I stuttered, became silent, I begged and whispered,
and you, turning inward, saw nothing.
Until suddenly, you opened up wide like a field in the wind
and your voice burst forth from my throat.

From “In the Illuminated Dark: Selected Poems of Tuvia Ruebner” translated by Rachel Tzvia Back (Hebrew Union College Press, in collaboration with University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014).


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