Here lies Selilem the sot
whose one son got rich in Paris
and whose other son’s got
a wheelchair and goes begging door to door,
and whose daughter, Juliet was killed by an Arab
after he made her a whore;
she was found in a garbage bin in Jaffa.
Here is Mr. Massud
who, in the early fifties,
boosted his fate
standing on the back of a truck
and from the tops of garbage heaps
delivered flowery victory speeches
as from an ivory tower.
His daughter Stera is deaf,
rolling around with us on beds
and pillow fighting;
she had no idea
she’d die so soon.
Here is Kamera, my love,
who died prematurely
and whose voice poured over us
beyond the playground,
beyond the gate of the house,
until we didn’t know
where to hide from her voice
which beat upon us quivering, quivering.
We wrestled with pillows
after she died,
her voice was left hanging
over all the playgrounds.
Here is Rabbi Chaim and his wife
who in life couldn’t stand each other.
Once it was said
he poured boiling water on her
when she appeared bandaged;
they later relented and said
she fell into Thursday’s cleaning tub.
And here there lies Rabbi Iztchak the elder
and his wife, Ayesha the blind,
I would go with him to this very cemetery
to pick figs and carob;
I’d stand over the tree
and throw them into a small basket,
and at sunset when we returned
with a full basket his generous heart would give me
two, three figs.
And I am full of joy from that day
of pure pleasure.
The golden basket
was given to his blind wife.
And here, next to them
our good neighbor the Cohen Aaron
called likuidi zanai
because he was made a porter
though they wouldn’t accept him in the airport
because he kept Shabbat.
On Friday afternoons
we’d be stealing hay and straw
we’d be sponging off his back
and he’d sit in his tub, a white man
proud of his whiteness.
One of his daughters
went crazy on her wedding night
his other was called Maha and beautiful as the moon,
she was called cow eyed
for her eyes—you could have drowned in them.
And here is Abraham who is called Heno
to whom they did a kindness
by not burying him under the gate
he suicided with a bullet.
Heno is the black dawn,
his height was so high over us
that we walked between his legs
and he was great among us
and he didn’t talk to anyone;
they said of him
that he was the first
to get a job at the airport,
and it was also said of him
that he established an evening café
to have fun with an Ashkenazi woman.
They buried the secret of his sudden death with him,
it was enough to erect a functions hall
and to read out his name
Here is the teacher long-sidelocks
for whom we picked flowers
in this cemetery;
we brought a gift to make up
for being late
but he was never satisfied
and would take it and strike
with a small ruler he kept in his pocket.
And here is Aaron ben Hemo
Who fell in the Six Day War.
We prayed with him
in the small synagogue
named Mother Rachel.
And Aaron was standing on Rosh Hashanah
and reading from the Bima about the Binding of Isaac
he was reading about his
And here is the cracked tomb of my parents
that every year we say we’ll repair
and which we do not repair,
and now rain is falling
and seeping in
and my mother, who couldn’t stand the cold
didn’t take off her sweater
And here I will be buried.
I would like to be buried here
among the lives
In the fifties
In the city of Lod.
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A specially commissioned translation of poetry by leading Israeli poet Dory Manor.