Thursday, December 24, 2015

My Eucalyptus Grove (excerpt)

Part One

When I was in fifth grade my baby brother was born, and we had to move to a larger apartment to accommodate for this third child. I adored the baby, and together with my parents and younger sister celebrated his long-awaited arrival, but I hated everything about our new neighbourhood on the other side of Rishon LeZion. The streets were dreary, and the kids surly and condescending; especially after the stupid little pooch that belonged to the nastiest boy next door chased my dad’s car, got himself entangled in the wheels, and was crushed to death. Shelling that boy and his friends with improvised water balloons didn’t increase my popularity, but who could resist such delicious temptation?
      My entire being screamed to join my friends in the old neighbourhood: crawl into the thicket of the abandoned guava orchard behind my house; climb the crazy old woman’s loquat tree, pushing sweet fistfuls of that small, yolk-coloured fruit into our mouths and pockets as we shinned up the branches; venture beyond our school that marked the neighbourhood’s edge and step into the open fields brimming with wild flowers and citrus groves.
      My new neighbourhood offered no children to play with, no fruit trees to climb, and no fresh oranges to pick. While my old friends continued to frolic outdoors each afternoon until their mothers called them home for supper, I sat in my new room feeling sorry for myself.
      By then I already knew to avoid the company of girls; their mind games baffled and frustrated me to no end. It was like trying to figure out a foreign language without a dictionary. The girls in my new class were no different, but by mid-year I found company in my classmate and upstairs neighbour Nitzan, who invited me to join a small band of boys from our class. Although I was the only girl among them, they accepted me as their equal, and I proved them right, roaming far beyond our neighbourhood in search of adventures, keeping pace with them climbing fences and trees, and soon becoming the group’s designated goalie. I was happy with my new friends and no longer reminisced about the old ones. 
      In seventh grade my world turned upside down. My buddies, other than Nitzan, transformed into creepy aliens almost overnight. They now ogled me as a different species, eyes halting on parts of my body that seemed to have betrayed me. Twisting myself around to examine my rear end, following one of the boys' remarks, I was astonished to discover it somehow grew far wider than I could recall. I was similarly flabbergasted when some classmates suggested I consider getting myself a bra.
      “A bra?” I replied, glancing at my bumpy chest. “What on earth for?”
      I later dismissed such intrusions with a shrug, but I couldn’t ignore my shifting emotions; I too was affected by mysterious changes and now blushed at the sight of the group’s leader.
      I had no choice but withdraw from the gang.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Two-Year-Old Among Them

In the pitch-black box
the air is dying
with each breath.

Who does she cling
to as the highway roars
outside the metal cage?

Is she screaming in the people-crammed
space, her small lungs sucking
in vain on the dwindling air?

Is she falling
asleep as quiet
thickens within the locked
poultry truck, fear
numbing her young limbs?

I want to know her
name; and the colour
of her shirt; and …


In the news, 27 August 2015: Austrian police confirms … abandoned

truck …71 refugees… likely suffocated



Friday, October 16, 2015

The Visit

When he came I asked
in surprise: What are you
doing here, and he replied with a low-pitched
growl; more a teddy

than a fierce animal. I poured water
in a bowl for him, but
all he wanted was a cuddle, which is why
he travelled this far, he said, over
cities and fields, winging down
the East Coast in a metal bird.

You must be tired, I said, still standing
aback. Shall I make you a bed?
And you in it, he whispered, his body
softening into a big pillow, and you in it.


But no, I wave away
the thought ; he shall never
come. All the poems
in the world, but he shall never come.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Passage


Encased,
hugged by quiet, 

the ground is soft
against your neck.

Drop deeper, deeper
into the dimness.

Let the head release,
dissolve.

Allow the shadows
in; let them crawl
beneath the breath,
watch them dance.

No, wait, don't open
your eyes
yet. Let go,
like a swimmer sliding
into the water,
where gravity is of no
great concern.

What lies ahead I cannot tell.
I am too
on my way