Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

T. Carmi

THE DEATH OF MY MOTHER

The nurse told me:
go away.
There are things a person doesn’t forget
all his life.
Even sitting opposite the flickering waves
and the gulls’ dark snow.

I never thought I’d reach
my forty-third year.
I was sure that one who sings
sings for a short time;
and one who goes on
sits silent in front of the midday seas.

Meanwhile
I saw flecks of gulls fall toward the white river
and I have sons who talk in their sleep.

It was difficult to make out
her yellow body behind the oxygen mask.
I sat next to her and heard her lift off:
skin and bones,
and a voice behind the barrier –
she was already part of the sky’s things
the yellow of the last leaf
the white of the hospital sheet.

Then I said to myself
(because I breathed through my eyes)
here she is lifting off.

When I went outside I was convinced
that I had to travel far away.
And today, twenty-three years later,
at the distance of an ocean, a strait and a sea,
facing the beautiful semaphore of the waves
and the flecks of black gulls,
it is clear to me that the nurse was right:
there are things that a person never forgets.

THE DEATH OF MY MOTHER

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THE DEATH OF MY MOTHER

The nurse told me:
go away.
There are things a person doesn’t forget
all his life.
Even sitting opposite the flickering waves
and the gulls’ dark snow.

I never thought I’d reach
my forty-third year.
I was sure that one who sings
sings for a short time;
and one who goes on
sits silent in front of the midday seas.

Meanwhile
I saw flecks of gulls fall toward the white river
and I have sons who talk in their sleep.

It was difficult to make out
her yellow body behind the oxygen mask.
I sat next to her and heard her lift off:
skin and bones,
and a voice behind the barrier –
she was already part of the sky’s things
the yellow of the last leaf
the white of the hospital sheet.

Then I said to myself
(because I breathed through my eyes)
here she is lifting off.

When I went outside I was convinced
that I had to travel far away.
And today, twenty-three years later,
at the distance of an ocean, a strait and a sea,
facing the beautiful semaphore of the waves
and the flecks of black gulls,
it is clear to me that the nurse was right:
there are things that a person never forgets.

THE DEATH OF MY MOTHER

The nurse told me:
go away.
There are things a person doesn’t forget
all his life.
Even sitting opposite the flickering waves
and the gulls’ dark snow.

I never thought I’d reach
my forty-third year.
I was sure that one who sings
sings for a short time;
and one who goes on
sits silent in front of the midday seas.

Meanwhile
I saw flecks of gulls fall toward the white river
and I have sons who talk in their sleep.

It was difficult to make out
her yellow body behind the oxygen mask.
I sat next to her and heard her lift off:
skin and bones,
and a voice behind the barrier –
she was already part of the sky’s things
the yellow of the last leaf
the white of the hospital sheet.

Then I said to myself
(because I breathed through my eyes)
here she is lifting off.

When I went outside I was convinced
that I had to travel far away.
And today, twenty-three years later,
at the distance of an ocean, a strait and a sea,
facing the beautiful semaphore of the waves
and the flecks of black gulls,
it is clear to me that the nurse was right:
there are things that a person never forgets.
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
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