Poems by Orit Gidali

Translated from the Hebrew by Marcela Sulak


Did you pack it yourself?

Of all the questions
to ask: did you pack it yourself?
Yes, by myself.
It was hard, I said,
but it is harder to fear
that it will never come.
I am not beautiful, you see,
and the heart is the size of a fist.




I am that girl; recess scares me
more than the lesson.  It’s not clear
what you need to do, other children—


Pointing with upright stature, the finger
is sent to the ceiling’s face.
Adults, adults,
come and collect this tall hand,
draw it from childhood.


By the rungs of the years I will seek to arise from her,
to try not to try too hard,
to put things carelessly,
to support my bedroom.
When her finger reaches my foot, I will be disillusioned,
the whole earth is filled with the weight of it.

שירים מאת אורית גידלי

ארזת לבד

מכל השאלות

לשאול: ארזת לבד?

כן, לבד.

היה קשה, אמרתי

אבל יותר קשה לפחד שזה

לא יבוא כבר אף פעם.

אינני יפה, אתה מבין,

והלב הוא בגודל אגרוף.



אני הילדה הפסקה מפחידה אותי

יותר מן השיעור לא ברור

מה צריך לעשות, ילדים אחרים



מצביעה בזקיפות קומה האצבע

נשלחת אל פני התקרה

מבוגרים מבוגרים

בואו ואספו את היד הגבוהה

משו אותה מן הילדות.


בחווקי-השנים אבקש לעלות ממנה,

לא לצאת מגדרי,

להניח דברים ברישול,

לסמוך באישושים את חדר השינה.

כשתתפוס אצבעה את רגלי אתבדה.

כל הארץ כובדה.


Orit Gidali is an Israeli poet. “Did you pack it yourself?” and “Girl” originally appeared in the collection Esrim Ne’arot LeKane [Twenty Girls to Envy Me] (Sifriat Poalim, Tel Aviv, 2003).  Gidali is also the author of Smikhut [Closing In] (2009), and the children’s book Noona Koret Mahshavot [Noona the Mindreader] (2007). 

Marcela Sulak directs the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing and teaches poetry and American literature. She is the author of two collections of poetry, Immigrant (2010) and Of all the things that don’t exist, I love you best (2008). She has translated three collections of poetry from Habsburg Bohemia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Her Czech translations have been used in animated films and as subtitles in the Czech National Theater.

Translator’s Note: Marcela Sulak on Orit Gidali’s “Did you pack it yourself?”

What strikes me most in translating Orit Gidali’s poetry is Gidali’s transformation of a common word or gesture into a multi-dimensional experience.  While Gidali’s technique demonstrates and plays upon a word’s lineage and range of meaning, English words contain different facets and associations.  The Hebrew word “Levad,” for example, can mean “alone,” or “by oneself.” The speaker in this poem is asked if she packed the suitcase herself, but she interprets the question as, was she alone, un-partnered, when she packed it?  I could not use a single word in English to accomplish this trick, so I had to employ prepositions, changing “did you pack it yourself?” to “yes, by myself.”  This iteration does not emphasize as strongly the aloneness upon which the poem plays, but I hope the context comes through.




Return to Table of Contents