Gili Haimovich and I are fortunate to have developed a creative collaboration in which I translate her poetry to English and she translates mine to Hebrew. The process is engaging and dynamic. Part of the pleasure of translating Gili’s poetry from Hebrew is discovering the complexity within its simplicity. One of the challenges is to capture the emotional impact and musicality of her straightforward language and often short lines (“Something has to break”). I attempt to convey the “voice” of her poems – a voice that is at once observational, confessional, conversational, and witty. These poems, from the 2014 book Tinoket (Baby Girl), explore the dual roles of wife and mother. The poems offer a satisfying confrontation with shades of life experience – from the light (the baby girl is a “small sun”), to the dark (“I show you in pantomime I’m hurting”), and all that’s in between.
Gili Haimovich (author) is an internationally published poet. She has five volumes of poetry in Hebrew and a collection of poems in English titled Living on a Blank Page (Blue Angel Press, 2008). Her work appears or is forthcoming in journals and anthologies such as Poetry International, International Poetry Review, LRC – Literary Review of Canada, Asymptote, Recours au Poème (with translations to French), Poetry Repair, Bakery, TOK1: Writing the New Toronto, Ezra Magazine, Deep Water, Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal, Women in Judaism, Lilith, and other journals. Gili works as a translator as well as an interdisciplinary arts therapist and educator.
Dara Barnat (translator) is a poet with poetry, translations, and essays appearing in The Cortland Review, Poet Lore, Ha’aretz, Lilith, Los Angeles Review of Books, Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. Her collection of poetry In the Absence is forthcoming from Turning Point in 2016. Dara holds a PhD from Tel Aviv University where she is currently teaching. darabarnat.com
Signing a Place
Something has to break,
we just don’t know what.
No, just not the child.
So then what?
All that’s left between us are gestures.
I massage you
you sign it’s pleasant.
Sometimes I don’t see your signs,
you’re with your back to me.
I show you in pantomime I’m hurting.
You assign that to be phantom pain.
What Lights Up the Sky
I am solar powered,
but now I have you and our baby girl.
I have to pull you all
outside, on my back,
just to be charged.
And our baby girl, she is a small sun,
I am a slightly larger sun,
and you are the moon.
These alone light up the sky.
None other than them but darkness?
I need to carve my way outside,
through the dark corners of the house,
labyrinths of laundry,
waterfalls of milk and tears,
to be charged by solar power
that will go through me
to our baby girl,
but not scorch you.
These alone light up the sky,
none other than us but darkness.