The light of Israeli women poets – Candle #6 – Ayana Ardel

The light of Israeli women poets – Candle #6 – Ayana Ardel

Ayana is a poet of “hard knocks”. Of the economic sword at our throats, of housing crises. Of the divorced mother who does not know if she has enough money to pay her monthly bills. From this pain Ayana weaves a lyrical unnerving poetry.

ardelAyana Ardel was born in 1973 in Copenhagen to a Polish mother and a Turkish father. She grew up in Jerusalem where she lives to this day. Ayana published three books, and was awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize in 2013.

Ayana is a poet of “hard knocks”. Of the economic sword at our throats, of housing crises. Of the divorced mother who does not know if she has enough money to pay her monthly bills.

From this pain Ayana weaves a lyrical unnerving poetry.

In honor of women who can’t pay their monthly bills, I lit the sixth candle of Hanukkah.

Where will you live when you have no place to live?

Where will you live when you have no place to live?

I’ll live at the sewer opening, and piss standing up.
I’ll live at the entrance to the pharmacy, and they’ll give me presents
of expired drugs.
I’ll live in a big cardboard box in the market, and in the morning I’ll help drag
sacks of potatoes.
I’ll live in a flower box in Yemin Moshe and when I sleep my nose will graze
tall flowers imported from Holland.

Where will you live when you have no place to live,
when you’re thrown out of the apartment you’ve lived in for thirty years.
When only a mezuzah remains on the wall.
When new governments and new ministers arrive, and you have
just
a little
salt.
When you are fired from work where you joked with everyone.
Also
a sort
of a joke.
When you receive food from a charity you used to contribute to.
Clothes from the garbage bin, and you’ll actually like them.
When the man you loved stands with his back to you and pisses
and you have to leave.
You’ll lug a suitcase and a few plastic bags.
People from the welfare office will come to you and ask:
“Whose pants are these?”
And they’ll say that if you have a man around the house, you don’t need
money of your own.
At different work places they’ll check to see if you’re really healthy.
And that you are childless. So you can work every day until five.
And when your mother finally lies down in her concrete neighborhood
and looks out on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway,
if you could visit, you’d come to be of help.

© Translation: 2013, Lisa Katz
First published on Poetry International, 2013

Translator’s Note: Yemin Moshe is an exclusive west Jerusalem neighborhood facing the Old City. A mezuzah is a piece of parchment with specific Hebrew verses from Jewish sources and contained in a decorative case that is affixed to the doorframe to fulfill the Biblical commandment to inscribe them “on the door posts of your house”.

אֵיפֹה תָּגוּרִי כְּשֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה לָךְ יוֹתֵר אֵיפֹה לָגוּר?

אָגוּר בְּפִתְחֵי הַבִּיּוּב, וְאַשְׁתִּין מִלְּפָנִים.
אָגוּר עַל סַף בֵּית מִרְקַחַת, וְיִתְּנוּ לִי בְּמַתָּנָה
תְּרוּפוֹת שֶׁפָּג תָּקְפָּן.
אָגוּר בְּאַרְגַּז קַרְטוֹן גָּדוֹל בַּשּׁוּק, וּבַבֹּקֶר אֶעְזֹר לִסְחֹב
תַּפּוּחֵי אֲדָמָה.
אָגוּר בַּעֲרוּגַת פְּרָחִים בִּימִין משֶׁה,  וּכְשֶׁאִישַׁן יִגַּע הָאַף שֶׁלִּי
בַּפְּרָחִים הַזְּקוּפִים, יְבוּא מֵהוֹלַנְד.

אֵיפֹה תָּגוּרִי כְּשֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה לָךְ יוֹתֵר אֵיפֹה לָגוּר,
כְּשֶׁיְּסַלְּקוּ אוֹתָךְ מִן הַדִּירָה בָּהּ גַּרְתְּ שְׁלשִׁים שָׁנָה.
כְּשֶׁעַל הַקִּיר תִּשָּׁאֵר רַק הַמְּזוּזָה.
כְּשֶׁיָּבוֹאוּ מֶמְשָׁלוֹת חֲדָשׁוֹת, שָׂרִים חֲדָשִׁים, וְלָךְ
רַק
קְצָת
מֶלַח.
כְּשֶׁיְּפַטְּרוּ אוֹתָךְ מִן הָעֲבוֹדָה בָּהּ הָיִית מִתְבַּדַּחַת עִם כֻּלָּם.
גַּם כֵּן
סוּג
שֶׁל בְּדִיחָה.
וּכְשֶׁתְּקַבְּלִי אֹכֶל מֵאִרְגּוּן הַסַּעַד שֶׁפַּעַם הָיִית תּוֹרֶמֶת לו..
וּבְגָדִים בְּפַח הַזֶּבֶל, דַּוְקָא יִמְצְאוּ חֵן בְּעֵינַיִךְ.
כְּשֶׁהַגֶּבֶר שֶׁאָהַבְתְּ יַעֲמֹד בְּגַבּוֹ אֵלַיִךְ וְיַשְׁתִּין,
וְאַתְּ תִּצְטָרְכִי לָלֶכֶת.
סוֹחֶבֶת תִּיק וְכַמָּה שַׂקִּיּוֹת.
יָבוֹאוּ אֵלַיִךְ מֵהַבִּטּוּחַ הַלְּאֻמִּי וְיִשְׁאֲלוּ:
“שֶׁל מִי הַמִּכְנָסַיִם הָאֵלֶּה”?
וְיַגִּידוּ שֶׁאִם יֵשׁ לָךְ גֶּבֶר בַּבַּיִת, אַתְּ לֹא צְרִיכָה
כֶּסֶף מִשֶּׁל עַצְמֵךְ.
אֲבָל בָּעֲבוֹדָה הַזֹּאת וּבָעֲבוֹדָה הַזֹּאת בּוֹדְקִים קֹדֶם כֹּל שֶׁאַתְּ בְּרִיאָה לְגַמְרֵי.
וְשֶׁאֵין לָךְ יְלָדִים. שֶׁתַּעַבְדִי כָּל יוֹם עַד חָמֵשׁ בָּעֶרֶב.
וּכְשֶׁאִמָּא שֶׁלָּךְ כְּבָר שׁוֹכֶבֶת בִּשְׁכוּנָה שֶׁל בֶּטוֹן
וּמִסְתַּכֶּלֶת עַל כְּבִישׁ יְרוּשָׁלַיִם-תֵּל אָבִיב
אֲבָל אִלּוּ יָכְלָה הָיְתָה בָּאָה, הָיְתָה בָּאָה כְּדֵי לַעְזֹר.

© 2008, Am Oved
From: Love Poems for Hard Times
Publisher: Am Oved, Tel Aviv, 2008

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