Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"The Recipe of Time" -- a poem by Yael Tomashov-Hollander

The Recipe of Time / Yael Tomashov-Hollander

...It means there are no partings.
There is only one great encounter.”

I. A. Brodsky

When Iosif Aleksandrovich was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature
I was six years old.
That morning, my grandmother braided her love
into the falls of coal that adorned my face.
I may have been ill.
Afraid of the outdoors, as I was, I studied the Lutskian square
through a tightly-locked window.
Between me and the square was a row of violets
on the cold, wide window sill, higher
than the seat of the chair I had climbed to look and forget.

My home town was born without me and grew in my absence.

I may have been ill, thanking God who resided in the square
under the golden dome of the
Pravoslavic church,
for letting me stay at home,
near the smell of dough on my grandmother's apron,
who always stood in the kitchen with her back to me,
her heart melting within her from every sudden hug –
cheek to back, arms around belly – world hugging.
And time and time again the ladle went missing, drowning in the cooking pot,
and the soft hand stroked curls of coal,
charting the recipe of time
on my heart-board with a flour chalk.
There were always words, there was a biscuit, even sugared cream.
A quick whisk, a dish from the lower shelf
and I tip-toed back to my window sill, equipped with a small culinary achievement.
An hour later, during lunch, my grandmother boasted to all
of having been greatly helped and what would she have done without me?
I was yet to learn how to conceal a smile.
I chewed thoughts and gazed at the windowpane until the merging of whiteness and light blue:
pale autumn slices, chunks of clouds and a black cross.
A scarecrow in the sky of my memories.

Copyright © Yael Tomashov-Hollander
Translated from Hebrew by Shir Freibach

When your homeland is far away, a space opens and remains open in consciousness. There, a subtle grace, a quiet elegance tints language as it moves from latency to expression.

Memory, now brought forward into lines, takes on a different aspect than mere recall or reverie. Memory, now deepened, is vivified by an aesthetic alchemy. Such a phenomenon, such an expansion of event into written meaning is called poetry.

Certain poems recreate more than just an experience. A dimension of enhanced consciousness opens for the poet and for the reader. And one can find in certain poems a symbol of tremulous protection against the persistence of old fears and early melancholy:

pale autumn slices, chunks of clouds and a black cross.
A scarecrow in the sky of my memories.

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