Poems by Yochai Shalom Hadad

Translated from the Hebrew by Katie Green


I Will Be

Even if I do
walk in the vale of deathshadow
and fear the evil there,
the shock will be temporary.
My suffocation swallowed down
and my senses sharp again, the way will become clear.
I will be a vale of deathshadow
to someone else.



Tonight I was dreamed into fear suddenly
a passenger plane silent above a field.
Tonight I was a flash of light falling
tonight I was fragments and remnants and rags and collapse
a woman’s headscarf unfolded in dust
a shadow ring and a veil concealing.
Tonight I was a zipper undone and done up on years that have passed
tonight I turned a key inside its hole
tonight I was the wedding act
tonight I opened your legs wide
tonight you threshed inside me your
circumcised memory.
You became pregnant within me
and I was a hollow of forgetfulness
and you in me a stream of remembering
and I was a month that was four years old.
And that was not the child that I had prayed for.


שירים מאת יוחאי שלום חדד



גַּם כִּי אֵלֵךְ בְּגֵיא צַלְמָוֶת
וְאִירָא רַע
הַבֶּהָלָה תִּהְיֶה זְמַנִּית
הַמַּחֲנָק יִבָּלַע
חוּשַׁי יִתְחַדְּדוּ וְהַדֶּרֶךְ תִּתְבַּהֵר
.גֵּיא צַלְמָוֶת לְאָדָם אַחֵר


החזר זיכרון

הַלַּיְלָה נֶחְלַמְתִּי בְּפַחַד פִּתְאֹם

מָטוֹס נוֹסְעִים בִּדְמָמָה מֵעַל שָׂדֶה בִּתְעוּפָה
הַלַּיְלָה הָיִיתִי הֶבְזֵק הַלַּיְלָה הָיִיתִי שְׁקִיעָה
הַלַּיְלָה הָיִיתִי שְׁבָרִים וּשְׂרִידִים וּקְרָעִים וּקְרִיסָה-
כִּסּוּי רֹאשׁ מְפֻלָּשׁ בֶּעָפָר
.טַבַּעַת רְפָאִים וְכִסּוּי הִינוּמָה

הַלַּיְלָה הָיִיתִי רוֹכְסָן שֶׁנִּפְתַח וְסָגַר עַל שָׁנִים שֶׁעָבְרוּ
הַלַּיְלָה סוֹבַבְתִּי מַפְתֵּחַ בְּחוֹר שֶׁל מַנְעוּל
הַלַּיְלָה הָיִיתִי אָקְט חֲתֻנָּה
הַלַּיְלָה פִּשַּׂקְתִּי רַגְלַיִם
הַלַּיְלָה אַתְּ דָּשְׁתְּ בִּי אֶת בְּרִית זִכְרוֹנֵךְ
הַלַּיְלָה הִתְעַבַּרְתְּ בִּי
וְהָיִיתִי נִקְבַּת שִׁכְחָה
וְהָיִית בִּי זִרְמַת זִכָּרוֹן
וְהָיִיתִי חֹדֶשׁ בֵּן אַרְבַּע שָׁנִים

.וְלֹא לַנַּעַר הַזֶּה הִתְפַּלַּלְתִּי

Yochai Shalom Hadad is a poet and filmmaker. His Hebrew poems have been published in various journals and in the literary supplements of Ha’Aretz, Yediot Aharonot and Mekor Rishon. His documentary film Thou Shall Not Dance has been broadcast on Israeli television and is at present being screened at film festivals worldwide.

Katie Green is an independent director and producer. She graduated from the Ma’aleh film school in 2003. Her films 16 and Prague were screened at festivals abroad and on Israel’s Channel 2. Today Katie translates and subtitles Ma’aleh films. She is currently a student of the Shaindy Rudoff Creative Writing program at Bar-Ilan University.

Translator’s Note: I have never translated poetry before, so these two poems were an exciting undertaking for me. The second section of the poem Rebound was particularly difficult, because in the erotic language of the Hebrew version, the poet Yochai Hadad links distinctly male poetic images with the feminine form of many of the pronouns and verbs. This blurs the boundaries between male and female and gives a sense of two people’s identities being intertwined. Because we can’t make nouns, verbs and pronouns masculine or feminine in English, I knew it would be hard to get the sense of genders being mixed, or exchanged, in translation. Whether this has been achieved is for the reader to judge, but suffice it to say that working together with the poet for many hours to try and preserve the ambiguity of the images was the most complex and enjoyable part of the process.



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