Like Abraham and Sarah at the Mamre oaks
before the hard-earned good news,
and like David and Bathsheba in the royal house
with the tenderness of the first night,
my sainted mother and father rise
in the west over the sea
with all the glows of God upon them—
for all the weight of their beauty they sink…slowly;
over their heads flows the awesome sea
beneath it their deep home.
This home has no walls on any side
water on water it’s built of.
The drowned of Israel come and swim
from every end of the sea
a star in their mouth…
and what they say there
the poem doesn’t know;
they know—the ones that are at sea—
Like a blown-out fiddle from the glow of a radiant tune
am I, their dutiful son,
who stood there overlooking time on the sea front.
And it does happen: come night my heart goes out to sea
and I—I go to the sea shore.
As if to the water’s edge I was called to view:
on either side of the sun’s wheel
him and her both there to be seen
father on the right and mother on the left
and under their bare feet
the burning sea flowing—
Translated from the Hebrew by Atar Hadari
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.