Two Poems

translated by Maayan Eitan


We lived on the edge of a poisonous swamp
black alligators bathed in it
every morning the exhaust tubes clamored 
and at noon we saw the thick vapor,
opaque almost, rising and its molten smell
reaching our noses, we could do nothing
but breathe. 

And we clad our skins in long fabrics
and we smeared our faces with powder
and we stretched our lips into a smile and we
     called our names
as if they weren’t foreign to us too
and we delivered our faces in round lines
and we traded words as if they were ours
and over the luminous tablecloth 
we squashed bull testicles on our tongue
without any wonder

and the screenshot of the flickering heart
rhythmically ticking, by itself, to itself,
was screened in front of us on bright walls
dazzling in its black halo, lingering,
and only the insulting body kept getting wet
when it wasn’t well covered, trembling
when it was cold, dripping when hot, stinking
when it wasn’t washed, getting fat,


On the Road

And I have already stopped searching
turning my head after every bearded man
     and son
so that they take me with them
and make me soup
I pushed afar every mother, every father I
     fended off 
friends and distant brothers, I
folded their attentive ears, skipped 
the expectant benches, asking for no
substitutes, I have
a home. 
It wobbles everywhere on poles 
behind me with a hungry voice
implores me to enter it and fold
my legs, take off my
shoes, and sit down.

Translations from the Hebrew

Photo by Elya Landau

Shira Stav is a scholar of Hebrew literature and a poet, translator, and literary critic. She is a senior lecturer in the Department of Hebrew Literature at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She has published two collections of poetry. Stav won the 2009 Bernstein Prize for literary criticism, the 2007 Teva Award for young Hebrew poets, and the 2013 Bernstein Prize for poetry.

Maayan Eitan is a writer and translator based in Tel Aviv. Her first novel, Love, was published in Israel in 2020. Her work is regularly published in Israeli and American literary magazines.