20th Century Yiddish American poets in translation

Vivian Flamm, Ruth Bookey and Ted Bookey present the works of 20th Century Yiddish American poets. Light refreshments served. Suggested contribution: $3. For further information call 685-3636.

From Our Yoke by Jacob Glatschtein

The last wall between us fell down
And I saw that she was not all charm.
I heard the wavering of her words
And did not long for wisdom.
And still,
With confidant hands
I hammered shingles
On the roof over any heads.
I know that she is not the one
I searched for.

For her I did not spread my nets.
What kind of hunter could I be anyway
With a pack of years that I managed to sneak through;
She came to me herself.

And yet I like it now
That we have won each other.
And when she came to me herself
And said:
I am not all charm
And not clever
And I don’t need all the stimulation
In order to want to live.
I know that my body, like yours,
Is a bit worn,
And I have, like you,
Three of four illnesses
That no perfume can disguise.
The body is—flesh.
And what is different in me from yours
Becomes different only by your touch.
Because in themselves the breasts are not breasts
And the girlish paraphernalia
Becomes girlish only with you.

I weighed and measured her simple talk.
I wanted to see where in her words
Lay the hidden and the mysterious
That could feed my desire for her
And hers for me.

Her words were pure skeleton,
With no embellishment of flesh and veins.
How could I have talked to her
About “Be a mother to me or a sister.”
A thousand lyrical poems she denied with her words.
And still I climbed on the roof
And mended all the leaks.

And I did it, rejoicing
That another human being was with me.
And as I hammered the shingles
The thought that
No matter how close man and woman may sleep
Their dreams are separate.
In sleep they are lonely
And shut each other out.
I told myself:
When I come down from the roof
I will tell her this and watch closely

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