Monday, 27 April 2020

Young Lives Dished up on a Silver Platter

As luck would have it, the conclusion of Israel's spring festive season coincides neatly with the last week of Global Poetry Writing Month.


Like everywhere else, the Corona pandemic means public events and general social interaction are happening mostly online in Israel.



Now almost routine were last night's streamed Yom Hazikaron - Day of Remembrance activities - that locally to me also included a Zoom study session based on The Silver Platter by Natan Alterman, a much loved patriotic work regularly read and discussed at this period.
Also typical, I suggest. of the frenzy of Israeli life in almost all aspects, is that the site to which I provide the link offers not one but four optional English translations of the original Hebrew. As three are anonymous, I reproduce the first by David P. Stern.

…And the land will grow still
Crimson skies dimming, misting
Slowly paling again
Over smoking frontiers
As the nation stands up
Torn at heart but existing
To receive its first wonder
In two thousand years
As the moment draws near
It will rise, darkness facing Stand straight in the moonlight In terror and joy
...When across from it step out
Towards it slowly pacing In plain sight of all A young girl and a boy
Dressed in battle gear, dirty
Shoes heavy with grime
On the path they will climb up
While their lips remain sealed
To change garb, to wipe brow
They have not yet found time Still bone weary from days And from nights in the field
Full of endless fatigue
And all drained of emotion
Yet the dew of their youth
Is still seen on their head
Thus like statues they stand
Stiff and still with no motion And no sign that will show If they live or are dead
Then a nation in tears
And amazed at this matter Will ask: who are you? And the two will then say
With soft voice: We--
Are the silver platter On which the Jews' state Was presented today
Then they fall back in darkness
As the dazed nation looks And the rest can be found In the history books.

© Natalie Wood (28 April 2020)





Sunday, 19 April 2020

HOW THE CORONA PASSED OVER


My kids spent Corona Passover wandering like Arameans,
skipping upstairs and down, inside and out, playing the
goat, waving and blowing safe kisses at Gran
on social media.




My kids spent Corona Passover like a lost flock of sheep,
wagging their hands like the tails of spring lambs,
begging Bo Peep to find them.

Oh, my sons, my abandoned sons.
Oh, their new-born brother.
Oh, my darling girl.
Oh, my sons’ absent mother!

© Natalie Wood (20 April 2020)

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Passover Super Moon 2020


(With apologies to Yip Harburg and Billy Rose)



Is it really a super moon
floating over a bloated sea
lighting a way to save dear
souls if they’d believe in me?

We are together as we’re apart
on each side of a toughened
glass –
forever entwined in a
wondrous web -
if you’d believe in me.

Masked but  naked,
enslaved by drudge,
we may live as free men yet,
if you'd believe in me.

© Natalie Wood (12 April 2020)


Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Passover in a Year of Modern Plague

Passover in a Year of Modern Plague

"What's true of all the evils in the world is true of the plague as well. It helps men to rise above themselves”.  (Albert Camus, ‘The Plague’, June 1947).



Blood
In a time of plague,
 I watch the carnivals of hate
roll by, but won’t participate.
I shop. But fixed on red alert,  
I hide behind my Purim mask, now
sanitised; advise the salesman
that my purchases are few.



Frogs
Perhaps something cooling
for a head that’s spawned
heaped coals on fire and
other stuff that’s extra soothing
for a throat shot through with
knives.

Lice
Once, my distracted mind insists,
on days like this, an ancient
king’s wise fool dared throw
the apple of his eye,
not on him, but at a mystic
man of science’s brow.
A-tishoo! A-tishoo! I can’t
buy a tissue. I must lie down.

Flies
Here’s time for holy
men to find martyrs many,
but forbidden to heal by touch,
their rooms are deserts –
lie arid, empty.

Pestilence
A Catholic Father clings to Jesus;
 What’s sickness, mine? What’s gone
amiss? Rav Mazuz bursts gay
folks’ pride. ‘Your way is community suicide’. 



                    
Boils
Blind granddad is a tailor,
he sews at Alum Rock.
Sleek rats squat on his windowsill
tho’ he’s cut from finest cloth.

Hail
‘Hail’ – which may also
speak ‘farewell’ - come near –
but not too close – we’re all in this
together - but apart.
 All borders shut. So let us,
rather, gather at safe
distance on our balconies.
There, we whistle, stomp and
cheer ‘hurrah’ in humble thanks
to those who work to save us now.

Locusts
No swarm of guests to lean

left about my heirloomed table.
No rosemary for remembered rue,
Instead, twice dipped, our new enslavement
will be forever etched in lineal pain.

Darkness
Sand burdened winds scythe
unwary heads.  Forsaken
streets expose unblinking eyes atop
shuttered public places, sacred spaces
that shed unwonted tears as mustard-muddy
clouds scud by.





Killing of the First Born
No blood-streaked lintel, no
fragrant hyssop helps. God’s
messenger arrives to take his tithe.
Once only a kid, an enfeebled lion
learns he is to roar no more,
his work on earth is done.
So too, here, is mine.  

© Natalie Wood (24 March 2020)


Friday, 12 April 2019

PerfectlyWritePoetry: Seaside Pastiche

PerfectlyWritePoetry: Seaside Pastiche: This piece was prompted by a multi-site visit to the northern Israeli coastal resort of Nahariya arranged by the Nefesh B’Nefesh immigration...

Seaside Pastiche

This piece was prompted by a multi-site visit to the northern Israeli coastal resort of Nahariya arranged by the Nefesh B’Nefesh immigration aid organisation.
The trip started at the town’s striking octagonal water tower that has served as an art gallery since 2003 and has been hosting a show by prize-winning crochet portrait artist, Orly Ben Basat.
There were also stops at the Lieberman House Museum that was restored in the 1990s and the home-based studio of Judaica fabric artist, Adina Gatt.
---------------------

A white tower’d gallery

by a river near the sea

frames women, three.

Sweet waters run softly till they end their song.

Slipped tight behind

mud-fogged glass,

time honours all

who’ve In these ancient

waters passed.


Why do they yet mourn

by God’s slim river, now

we’ve regained Zion?



Full fathoms five,

neither blind to the magic,

nor deaf to the melody,

see the needle-pointed

pearls that are their eyes,

those knitted brows.



Hark that silenced chargrilled

voice; a patterned arm.

Look how that behatted,

urchin charm plays on.






This falling house never

fell; no girl bathed

upon its bridal roof;

no royal watcher

gloated on the

embroidered truth.


Sweet waters run softly till they end their song.



Cry me a river!

Don’t laugh at

my belief in man;

at my belief in you,

little river.

Cry on, tho’ your

waters meet the

sea and herein ends

this song.

--------------------







© Natalie Wood (12 April 2019)



Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Alwayswriteagain: Why Israelis Love ‘Green Bóok’

Alwayswriteagain: Why Israelis Love ‘Green Bóok’: It is no surprise that Peter Farrelly’s hit movie Green Book continues to delight Israeli audiences: The real story behind it has ...