Excerpt

LULLABY TO ADAM THE FIRST MAN

Sleep tight Adam, first man
Your bed is the earth
From which you are made
I sculpted your image
Crafted by dust
With my own bear hand.

At last, our Eden is quiet
Keep still, until darkness will grow
Remember, Adam the first
I am above
And your are always below.

Naked you lay
Under the tree of life
There you must remain
Beware of the other fruit
And you'll never know any pain.
You don't have a mother or father
Both of us are alone in this world
You are a human, made out of dust
And I am forever your Lord.
That's the right order
Don't even dare cross the border.

Soon I'll create a mate
From your rib Eve will spring
Like a star in your heart she will glitter
Now close your eyes, sleep tight
I'm not going to be your baby sitter.

Sleep tight Adam the first
I am the strong one, you are the weak
Tomorrow our journey together begins
Enough with your questions
Hush, Hush in the mud
"If I'm made of earth, why is there blood?"

For six days I labored
Why? Do you ask.
Creating a world,
What a tiring task,
Separating darkness from light
Now you must sleep tight
Adam the first man
No one yet cries
And I too will close my eyes.

Translated by Nava Semel

 

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Illustration: Avner Katz

THE GUARDIAN ANGEL

The angel who keeps me
from all evil
shall bless the children
These are the words
my grandpa taught me
when I was little.
He leaned over in his
white kittel and said:
This prayer is a shawl that protects you
and keeps you from harm
The angel who redeems
is a whisper before sleep.

Time went on to another place
my grandpa and his white robe
aren't with me anymore
and I'm not the child
who slept in her room alone
so afraid of the dark

Now it's my turn to teach others
to bless me and all the children
Sh'ma Yisrael Hear O Israel
Whoever is curled up beside me
also murmurs the words
The angel who redeems

and somewhere, far away
my grandpa keeps praying with me.

 

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Illustration: Avner Katz


ALONE

Daddy, hold my hand
I want to make sure I'm not alone.

Why was the night created?
So we'd know there is day.
Only when a frost wave descends
can we truly feel the heat.
If darkness didn't exist
we wouldn't see the light.
Otherwise how could we tell
between the black and the white?

Daddy, hold my hand.
Maybe God is also scared
when He's alone.
Is it true that up above
He is completely on his own?
BIG BOY DADDY

Who puts you to bed
Big Boy Daddy?
When it's hard for you to fall asleep
who comforts you and tucks you in?
What are you afraid of
Big Boy Daddy?
Who do you cry out for
when a nightmare ruins your
dream?

Who kisses your cheek?
Who caresses your rest?
when darkness invades
your peaceful nest?

What are you afraid of,
Big Boy Daddy?
Whose name do you call?
Whose bed do you run to?

Who covers you on the coldest of nights?
Who turns out your light?
Who promises you with a thousand oaths
tomorrow will be alright?

Translated By Linda Zisquit

Linda Stern Zisquit an American-born poet was educated at Tufts University, Harvard University and SUNY Buffalo. She has published three full-length collections of poetry, Ritual Bath, Unopened Letters, and The Face in the Window, as well as a number of translations from Hebrew, including the work of Yona Wallach, Yehuda Amichai, and the Book of Ruth. Her Wild Light: Selected Poems of Yona Wallach won her an NEA Translation Grant and was short-listed for a PEN Translation Award. She has lived in Israel since 1978 with her husband and five children, is Poetry Editor for Maggid: A Journal of Jewish Literature, and runs ARTSPACE, an art gallery in Jerusalem representing contemporary Israeli artists. She was awarded a writer's grant from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture for 2005-2006 to complete a new collection of poems.

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Illustrations: Avner Katz

Avner Katz (Born in 1939 in Kibbutz Ramat Rachel near Jerusalem) graduated from the Bezalel Academy of Fine Arts in Jerusalem in 1959. During the 1960s he studied etching in London. Katz's achievements in visual art, illustration, teaching, and the media are numerous: over the years he has staged more than 30 solo exhibitions, illustrated over 200 books for children and adults, designed book covers and record sleeves, and created illustrations for the press; he has written satirical columns, taught in several academic institutions, was awarded international prizes, and participated in many exhibitions in Israel and abroad.

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