If not for the letter you sent me
then, half a century ago
in my rebellious years,
Iíd never have known
AND I DIDNíT OPEN IT.
Didnít read it, thinking you strange, odd,
sunk in yourself and holes dug
for your loved ones. You raised me unsmiling,
with neither hug nor caress. Your lips arched
by no kiss. There, but absent.
If not for that letter, whose folds
stayed closed, Iíd never have known
what strengths you choked in yourself.
AND I DIDNíT FEEL IT.
As if after that devastating rupture
all you might caress was the never erected
tombstone on the ashes of your family
and to smile was to betray, to love was to deceive
and no kiss might be released from your tight lips.
AND I DIDNíT KNOW.
Now, having opened the folds of your letter,
I havenít got you to console and be consoled.
The letter reveals you
as you were in your aching heart
where I the rebel only added anxiety.
On the page in front of me, in clear, beautiful
writing in a language my children donít know,
just as they will never know you,
you support, encourage, strengthen and counsel me.
AND I DIDNíT READ.
Now, mature at last, I understand
you could not do otherwise, afraid
Iíd inherit the same curse.
Translated by Riva Rubin
Vera Meisels, poet and sculptor.
Vera Meisels, studied sculpture in the Avni Institute. Her statue "Muselman" is
in the Yad Vashem Art Museum. Her poems were first published in Iton 77 Literary
Journal, later in the art section of the Israeli Ma'ariv newspaper, and in the
Slovakian translations of her poems appeared in Bratislava - Romboid (1991,
1993). The collection of poems, Searching for Relatives, was published by
Gevanim-Israel, 1997, and her poem Documentary film: 81st Blow appeared in the
Journal of Genocide Research in New York.
Her book Terezin's Firefly was published both, in English and in Czech, by G &
G, Prague, 2001. The English translation from Hebrew, by Riva Rubin and the
Czech translation from English, by poet Lubomir Feldek.
Copyright Vera Meisels, Israel, 2001.
Published here with the permission of Vera Meisels.