Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Shira Stav

SLOW TONGUE

On his deathbed my grandfather said to me
You, you need to have the words ripped out of your mouth
Like nails from a wall.
For the first time he looked at me with interest
And the affection reserved for pleasant strangers
Who happened into his life.
Tell me, he begged,
You've seen the world.

I haven't seen it, Grandpa, except
Through the nail holes
I left in the wall of the house
Until my parents filled them
With big forgetting
And many habits
And all the words I ripped out
Are hereby scattered before you
On the hospital blanket.
All that, I wanted to tell him
But the bed receded,
The words stuck in my mouth
And they pierced my tongue.

לשון אטית

לשון אטית

אַתְּ, צָרִיךְ לִתְלֹשׁ לָךְ אֶת הַמִּלִּים מֵהַפֶּה
כְּמוֹ מַסְמְרִים מִקִּיר
אָמַר לִי סַבָּא
מֵעַל מִטַּת מוֹתוֹ
לָרִאשׁוֹנָה הִבִּיט בִּי מִתּוֹךְ עִנְיָן
וּבְחִבָּה הַשְּׁמוּרָה לְזָרִים נֶחְמָדִים
שֶׁנִקְרוּ בְּחַיָּיו.
סַפְּרִי לִי, הִפְצִיר
אַתְּ רָאִית עוֹלָם.

לֹא רָאִיתִי, סַבָּא, אֶלָּא
מִבַּעַד לְחֹרֵי הַמַּסְמְרִים
שֶׁהוֹתַרְתִּי בְּקִיר הַבַּיִת
עַד שֶׁמָּלְאוּ שִׁכְחָה
וְהֶרְגֵּלִים רַבִּים
וְכָל הַמִּלִּים שֶׁתָּלַשְׁתִּי
הֲרֵיהֶן פְּזוּרוֹת לְפָנֶיךָ
עַל שְׂמִיכַת בֵּית הַחוֹלִים,
כָּל אֵלֶּה רָצִיתִי לוֹמַר לוֹ
אֲבָל הַמִּטָּה הִתְרַחֲקָה,
הַמִּלִּים לָעוּ בְּפִי
וְרָצְעוּ אֶת לְשׁוֹנִי.
 
Close

SLOW TONGUE

On his deathbed my grandfather said to me
You, you need to have the words ripped out of your mouth
Like nails from a wall.
For the first time he looked at me with interest
And the affection reserved for pleasant strangers
Who happened into his life.
Tell me, he begged,
You've seen the world.

I haven't seen it, Grandpa, except
Through the nail holes
I left in the wall of the house
Until my parents filled them
With big forgetting
And many habits
And all the words I ripped out
Are hereby scattered before you
On the hospital blanket.
All that, I wanted to tell him
But the bed receded,
The words stuck in my mouth
And they pierced my tongue.

SLOW TONGUE

On his deathbed my grandfather said to me
You, you need to have the words ripped out of your mouth
Like nails from a wall.
For the first time he looked at me with interest
And the affection reserved for pleasant strangers
Who happened into his life.
Tell me, he begged,
You've seen the world.

I haven't seen it, Grandpa, except
Through the nail holes
I left in the wall of the house
Until my parents filled them
With big forgetting
And many habits
And all the words I ripped out
Are hereby scattered before you
On the hospital blanket.
All that, I wanted to tell him
But the bed receded,
The words stuck in my mouth
And they pierced my tongue.
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
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère