Tuesday, February 9, 2010

half the people in the world

There’s half the people in the world who hate
the other half, and half who feel great love
for all of them, The latter feel so great,
they look down on former, high above
the feelings of the ones who hate. They’re more
enlightened, they believe, since they’re prepared
to trust the haters whom they don’t deplore.
By being reasonable they make me scared.

Inspired by a poem by Yehuda Amichai


Half the people in the world love the other half,
half the people hate the other half.
Must I because of this half and that half go wandering
and changing ceaselessly like rain in its cycle,
must I sleep among rocks, and grow rugged like
the trunks of olive trees,
and hear the moon barking at me,
and camouflage my love with worries,
and sprout like frightened grass between the railroad
and live underground like a mole,
and remain with roots and not with branches, and not
feel my cheek against the cheek of angels, and
love in the first cave, and marry my wife
beneath a canopy of beams that support the earth,
and act out my death, always till the last breath and
the last words and without ever understanding,
and put flagpoles on top of my house and a bomb shelter
underneath. And go out on raids made only for
returning and go through all the appalling
stations—cat, stick, fire, water, butcher,
between the kid and the angel of death?
Half the people love,
half the people hate.
And where is my place between such well-matched halves,
and through what crack will I see the white housing
projects of my dreams and the bare foot runners
on the sands or, at least, the waving of a girl's
kerchief, beside the mound?

Writen after a pleasant dinner with our friends Barbara and Alan Burband, after Barbara told me that she had finally started reading poems by Yehuda Amichai.


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