As He Wishes
Translated from the Hebrew by Janice Silverman Rebibo
The pipes breathe now
along the window
doorframes and doors
are wide open.
I am partial to this flat
including the dust it gathers
the barking and the planes
disgruntled footsteps on the stairs
and the dripping faucets.
Nothing prepared me
for this streaming
through the dried up channels.
The neighbor women don’t answer their phones here
and the waiters are apathetic
This neighborhood dresses up every night
as a different lady
and returns every morning foul and filthy.
What quantities of newspapers there are
in this house
one sports section
helped me to wrap up the droppings
of a dog
that got trapped in the hallway
to his great sorrow.
The clock in the kitchen
continues to ration
our time that runs out
as He wishes.
מאת: סמדר שרת
הַצִּנוֹרוֹת נוֹשְמִים עַכְשָׁו
חִבָּתִי נְתוּנָה לַדִּירָה הַזּאת
עַל הָאָבָק הַמִּצְטַבֵּר בָּהּ
הַצְעָדִים חַסְרֵי הַנַּחַת בַּמַּדְרֵגוֹת
שׁוּם דָּבָר לא הֵכִין אוֹתִי
הַשְׁכֵנוֹת פּה לא עוֹנוֹת לַטֶלֶפוֹנִים
הַשְּׁכוּנָה הַזּאת מִתְחַפֶּשֶת כּל לַילָה
.וְחוֹזֶרֶת כּל בּוקֶר מַצְחִינָה וּמְטֻנֶּפֶת
אֵיזֶה כַּמֻּיּוֹת שֶׁל עִתּוֹנִים
יֵשׁ בַּבַּיִת הַזֶּה
מוּסָף סְפּוֹרְט אֶחָד
עָזַר לִי לַעֲטוף גְּלָלִים
אֶת זְמַנֵּנוּ הָאוֹזֵל
From: Smadar Sharett, Anatomy of a Wholesome Heart (Sifrei Iton 77, Tel Aviv, 2008).
Smadar Sharett holds a B.A. in Education and Theatre from Hebrew University and was trained at Tel Aviv University as a theatre instructor. She is currently studying for her M.A. in Creative Writing at Ben Gurion University. She has published five books of Hebrew poetry; her fourth, Bat Ha-Yare’ach (Daughter of the Moon), won the Rabinovich Foundation Award. Sharett is an instructor of writing process. She teaches writers in private sessions by a method she developed.
Janice Silverman Rebibo is a native English speaker best known for her Hebrew poetry. Her poems have appeared in the Israeli press and have been published in four collections. She has translated in many disciplines, including a volume of selected poetry by Natan Yonatan (Within the Song to Live, Gefen, 2005). Poems by Rebibo in English have appeared in Voices Israel and ARC and are forthcoming in the spring of 2012 in the Muddy River Poetry Review and Soul-Lit.
Translator’s Note: Smadar Sharett’s “Kirtsono” is a contemporary, introspective poem distinguished by Sharett’s fine Hebrew diction. Stanzas advance through groupings of îm suffixes and of penultimately stressed forms, calling for some musicality in translation. The concluding words of the final stanzas—bigono / kirtsono—are compact lexical units evoking a wealth of associations. These prepositional phrases in classicizing register, while not meeting Hebrew’s requirements for rich rhyme, repeat the possessive pronominal suffix o plus a final vowel and consonant. Respecting this structural feature as primarily a pointer to meaning, I did not force a rhyme in English. Options for these much-used Hebrew expressions encompass biblical, liturgical, classical-literary and contemporary connotations. One contender for bigono remains “in his agony”. I preferred “to his great sorrow”, a parallel cliché incorporating the yagon of the familiar lexicon of bereavement. This wry personification echoes the dissonance of Sharett’s choice of Hebrew expression for capping off a description of cleaning up dog doo. I largely set aside the kirtsono of the Morning Prayer for women (“…who made me in accordance with His will”) for the straightforward “as you wish” sense, elevating it and acknowledging liturgy by capitalizing the H—“as He wishes”—another conscious, not inevitable choice.