Atar Hadari’s It’s Not Your Fault

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.

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