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‘The Love of Women’…

And two more poems.



The Love of Women

The worship of mothers is finite —
they love you and then they put you down —
or some other mouth comes along
and takes away the breast before you’re done —
but the love of baby girls is endless
they love you and think you are grand
and every morning when the sun
lights up the blinds as if with gold
they think it’s something you have done —
and then they’re gone and you are left with mother
their mother, who finally put down
their small and sticky bodies
(now lithe and limber) and took up your hand
and you wonder what it is they’re watching
now it is no longer in your gift to raise the sun.
And you go down into the valley
where stones are harder than they were
and light glints off the side of watches
but the river rushes like a train you can’t get on.
And your daughters run between clouds
gathering leaves like plums
and make a chariot to ride to your bed
with the horse you’ll see one morning through closed blinds.



Like Beasts Moving Through the Valley

The children leave themselves
not in the clothes, not in the blurred glass plates
but in the emptiness that rattles
when their chair no longer holds that flesh.

And you know, you know they’re going
but you don’t know — till they’re gone
how you’ll hear that sun again ascending
or the rattle of the can three quarters drained.

And no-one answers when you set the table
no one says you haven’t served enough
and you hold each other round the large hole
that you didn’t know divided you — like stars.

And you hold each other and their memories
that were blurred in action, like a glass
become clearer with each re-telling
till you are the parents of a stain over your hearth.

And you let them go, you let them
and they run away like spies
and return again with each dawn
as you rise again, them long gone, for another water glass.


Player’s Advice

You make a little closet in your heart
where people may undress and leave their clothes
play out their tragedies, their comic parts —
come back to you unwound and recompose
themselves to being just themselves
in that small house. When it is playing full
the rafters of your roof will sigh echoes
of that one song that fills your belly hall;
when it is empty there’s a dull stillness,
no light answers out of the windowpanes.

And when an actor in that room is leaving,
ends their run, signs on the door and slams
reverberations through the basement of the building,
darkness in the auditorium.
Clear out the closet throw down the old flowers
press the sweetest in the players’ book;
sponge the mirror, take in your new trousers
— find fresh meat and wipe off the old hook.

Atar Hadari’s Songs from Bialik: Selected Poems of H. N. Bialik (Syracuse University Press) was a finalist for the American Literary Translators’ Association Award. His Pen Translates award-winning Lives of the Dead: Collected Poems of Hanoch Levin was published in 2018. His first collection, Rembrandt’s Bible (2013), is also available.


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