By Atar Hadari
It’s Not Your Fault
When they see your face and smile
It’s not your colour scheme they see,
Not your teeth, your eyes, your style
But every name their grandchildren will hear
Walking in the gate at school.
Every look and second glance
Walking round the swimming pool,
Sidling into someone’s house.
That question “Where do you come from?”
Sounds innocent enough
When you come from the same particular place
Both sets of their grandparents left.
But if you don’t – well
The rains are not adequate to fill
The holes in every tale you tell,
The ground cannot hold the well
And it will run away with run-off
Waters, rain will fill the drains
And there will not be one drop after
All the drops at home have spilled
And you can go out in the gutter –
Winch your mouth open
And tilt your head back until the throat
Constricts and you catch a soupcon,
The faintest taste of heaven –
One small drop lands on your tongue.
But it will dry like leather:
You will never be one of us.
Atar Hadari’s “Songs from Bialik: Selected Poems of H. N. Bialik” (Syracuse University Press) was a finalist for the American Literary Translators’ Association Award and his own collection, “Rembrandt’s Bible”, was published by Indigo Dreams. “Lives of the Dead: Poems of Hanoch Levin” was recently awarded a Pen Translates 2016 grant and is forthcoming from Arc Publications this Spring. He contributes a monthly verse bible translation column to MOSAIC magazine.