Tuvia Ruebner: “Sham A’marti/There, I Said”

busy corner

There, I Said

I set out from my temporary home to show my kids the place I came from.
There, I said, there I lay on the ground,
with a stone for my pillow, lower than the grass,
like the dust of the earth;
everything is preserved there.

We passed through mountains, forests, and cities that were
caves, and water gathered into pools along the way and the roads were bad.
The car lurched from ditch to ditch.

What is this sweet air? my kids ask.
What is this plaster that falls from the walls?

Oh, it’s nothing–nothing at all, explained the old woman in the window,
here, even the future is past. And she shut her parched eyes
like a bird that ascends, tucks its wings, and dives.

I was born here, I said to my kids,
my parents and ancestors were born nearby.
All are born … There was a house here,
I said to my kids and the wind passed
between me and the words.

I set out to show my kids the place I came from. And when
will we eat?
my kids ask, and where
will we sleep?

–Tuvia Ruebner

Translation by M. Salomon from the Hebrew

Photo credit: Busy Corner by ecstaticist


~ by matt on 23 February 2008.

4 Responses to “Tuvia Ruebner: “Sham A’marti/There, I Said””

  1. Nice. Fitting photo.

  2. HI
    Do you know how to contact Tuvia – I am interested in composing music for some of his work.

    CAn you send me or direct me to the Hebrew version of the poem translated above

  3. Aaron–
    Fascinating!! I do not know precisely how to reach Tuvia Ruebner–the latest biographical info I have for him is that he is living in “Kibbutz Merhavia.” (based on the bio at the Mississipi Review which recently published a translation of Ruebner). I don’t know if he still has an agent, but one possibility is for you to contact the cultural attache at the embassy and see if they can help. I’m sure they’ll be interested in your project!

    As am I. When this comes to fruition please let us know. Meanwhile, I’m writing this comment while listening to your “lo yisa goy” which is AWESOME. (Readers: Aaron’s site is http://www.jaffaroad.com)

    Thanks for visiting and commenting. Matt

    ps..the Hebrew text has been published in T. Carmi’s anthology of Hebrew poems which should be linked to the post through the title…i”ll check now to see if that’s the case, if not will fix

  4. Addendum for Aaron–I’ve linked to Carmi for the Hebrew text (a secondary source). I used the original text, but would have to check my files to see what that was. Let me know if you’d like the text sent…matt

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Natalie E. Illum...

is a poet, performer and disability activist. Bring her stumbling to your city.

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