Oct 232013
 

Kind of a tear-jerker, this one. Ditzanny was called up to reserve service in the First Lebanon War when he was already well into his thirties, and was deeply traumatized by the horrors he saw inflicted on the mostly much younger men around him – something he made no secret of, titling his first collection of poetry Poetry from the Ward for the Spiritually Disabled. That collection, from which this poem is taken, was published in 1984, and contains many searing depictions of the war’s physical and psychological aftermath.

Unusually (for secular Hebrew poetry), the characters in this poem are Charedi, and the poet invests them with a tenderness, emotional richness and humanity that the average secular Israeli poet would most likely never consider, if his or her poems dealt with Charedim at all. Whether this is due to personal experience or Ditzanny’s contrarian streak, only the poet can say. And he won’t, being, y’know, recently deceased.

Unfortunately (from the translator’s perspective,) this poem contains a lot of wordplay centered around the root D-B-Q (stick, cleave, cling, glue, adhere, etc.) that doesn’t really come through, because one needs to translate it differently in English each time it appears to preserve the literal sense of the words. There’s also a pretty quality play on words with mishnato and mi-mishnato that’s untranslatable. Ahh, what’re you gonna do? Translation’s a bitch, and then you die.

Ramy Ditzanny (1950 – 2012)
An Ember Saved from Anti-Tank Fire

Plastic Surgery Ward, Rambam Hospital

A nurse passing by nastily grumbles because of a visitor — there’s no smoking allowed here!
Inside the room a bed of pure white. A charred figure crumpled of form. Asleep. A smoked roast’s aroma. A vile aroma.
Next to it stationed and swaying for hours a black hat-and-vest-and-kapoteh,
in its hand a Gemara (or it might be a siddur, or Torah).

All of a sudden a scorched lump of flesh is started awake from its sleep
opening eyes-without-lashes, two shards of shrapnel deep in the left eyebrow, eyes no more than two slits,
murky with smoke but so bright (of course from the background of that sooty black face)
and dribbling congealing its two torn lips
like vaginae slip open —
whispering murmuring loosing their grips on burnt letters: w-a-t-e-r.

His father at once, I’m right here my son, starts from his Mishnah,
takes from the cabinet, reaching his hand towards the boy, a cup that he holds to those lips,
and from forehead and chest, spilling compassion, with his handkerchief wipes off the water that’s dripped.

And then careful he pulls the cup free, in the palms of his hands tightly gripped,
turning its rim to exactly the place where clung the sweet of those lips —
and wraps his lips ’round it kissing the seal of those lips.

Silent he blesses and sips a small sip,
puts down the cup,
stealthily wiping the eyes now adrip,
and once again clings to his worship.

רמי דיצני
אוד מוצל מאש נ״ט

 
מחלקת פלסטיקה, בי״ח רמב״ם
 
אָחוֹת מִזְדַּמֶּנֶת נִרְגֶּנֶת בְּגִין מְבַקֵּר מִזְדַּמֵּן שֶׁיַּפְסִיק לְעַשֵּׁן!
בַּחֶדֶר מִטָּה צְחוֹרָה. צֶלֶם מְפֻחָם מְעוּךְ צוּרָה. יָשֵׁן. רֵיחַ צְלִי מְעֻשָּן. רֵיחַ רָע.
עַל יָדָהְ נִצֶּבֶת שָׁעוֹת מִתְנוֹעַעַת מִגְבַּעַת־קַפּוֹטָה־חֲזִיָּה שְׁחוֹרָה,
בְּיָדָהּ דַּף גְּמָרָא (אוֹ אוּלַי סִדּוּר, אוּלַי סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה).
 
פִּתְאֹם גּוּשׁ בָּשָׂר שָֹרוּף נֶחֱרָד מִשְּׁנָתוֹ
פּוֹקֵחַ אֵין־רִיסִים־עֵינַיִם, שְׁנֵי רְסִיסִים בַּגַּבָּה הַשְּׂמָאלִית. שְׁנֵי חֲרִיצִים עֵינַים,
עֲשֵׁנוֹת־עֲכוּרוֹת אַךְ כָּל כָּךְ בְּהִירוֹת (כַּמוּבָן עַל רֶקַע פָּנִים כֹּה שְׁחוֹרוֹת)
וּשְׂפָתָיו הַקְּרוּעוֹת זָבוֹת מַקְרִישׁוֹת
מִתְפַּשְּׂקוֹת כְּפֹת —
רוֹחֲשׁוֹת לוֹאֲטוֹת מְמַלְּטוֹת אוֹתִיּוֹת שְֹרוּפוֹת: מַ-יִ-ם.
 
מִיָּד אָבִיו, הִנֶּנִּי בְנִי, נֶחֱרָד מִמִּשְׁנָתוֹ,
מֵעַל הָאֲרוֹנִית לוֹקֵחַ, שׁוֹלֵחַ יָדוֹ אֶל־הַנַּעַר, כּוֹס מַדְבִּיק לַשְּׂפָתַיִם,
וּמִסַּנְטֵרוֹ וּמֵחָזֵהוּ, בְּרַחֲמִים שְׁפוּכִים, מוֹחֶה בְּמִטְפַּחְתּוֹ מוֹתַר הַמַּיִם.
 
וְהַכּוֹס אַחַר־כָּךְ בִּזְהִירוּת מְנַתְּקָהּ, מְחַבְּקָהּ בִּשְׁתֵי כַּפּוֹת יָדַיִם,
מְסוֹבֵב שְֹפָתָהּ בְּדִיּוּק מוּל מָקוֹם בּוֹ דָּבַק מֶתֶק הַשְּׂפָתַיִם —
וּמְדַבֵּק בָּה שְֹפָתָיו מְנַשֵּׁק חֲתִימַת הַשְּׂפָתַיִם.
 
בּלֹא קוֹל מְקַדֵּשׁ וְלוֹגֵם לְגִימַת מַיִם,
מַנִיחַ הַכּוֹס
בִּגְנֵבָה מוֹחֶה עֵינַיִם,
וְשָׁב דָּבֵק לִמְלֶאכֶת שָׁמַיִם.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Aḥót mizdaménet nirgénet begín mevaqéir mizdaméin she-yafsíq le-ʕashéin!
Ba-ḥéder mitáh tzeḥoráh. Tzélem mefuḥám maʕúkh tzuráh. Yashéin. Réiaḥ tzelí meʕushán. Réiaḥ raʕ.
ʕal yadáh nitzévet shaʕót mitnoʕáʕat migbáʕat-kapótah-ḥaziyáh sheḥoráh,
be-yadáh daf Gemára (‘o ‘ulái sidúr, ‘ulái séifer toráh).

Pit’óm gush basár sarúf neḥerád mishnató
poqéiaḥ ‘ein-risím-ʕeináyim, shnéi resisím ba-gabáh ha-smolít, shnéi ḥaritzím ʕeináyim,
ʕasheinót-ʕakhurót ‘akh kol kakh behirót (kamuván ʕal réqaʕ paním koh sheḥorót)
u-sefatáv ha-qeruʕót zavót maqrishót
mitpasqót ke-fót —
roḥashót lo’atót memaltót ‘otiyót serufót: má – yím.

Mi-yád ‘avív, hinéni vení, neḥerád mi-mishnató,
mei-ʕál ha-‘aronít loqéiaḥ, sholéiaḥ yadó ‘el ha-náʕar, kos madbíq la-sefatáyim,
u-mi-santeiró u-mei-ḥazéihu, be-raḥamím shefukhím, moḥéh be-mitpatḥó motár ha-máyim.

Ve-ha-kós ‘aḥár-kakh bizhirút menatqáh, meḥabqáh bishtéi kapót yadáyim,
mesovéiv sefatáh be-diyúq mul maqóm bo daváq méteq ha-sefatáyim —
U-medabéiq bah sefatáv menashéiq ḥatimát ha-sefatáyim.

Be-lo qol meqadéish ve-logéim legimát máyim,
maníaḥ ha-kós
bigneiváh moḥeh ʕeináyim,
ve-sháv davéiq limlékhet shamáyim.

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