Poem: from “My Mother’s House”—Leah Goldberg

May 27, 2020 | Filed Under Poem for Hela | No Comments

from MY MOTHER’S HOUSE
Leah Goldberg
Translated from Hebrew by Robert Alter

My mother’s mother died
in the spring of her days. Her daughter
Would not remember her face. Her portrait inscribed
In my grandfather’s heart
Was expunged from the world of images
After his death.

Only her mirror was left in the house.
Through the passage of time it had sunk in its silver frame.
And I, her pale grand-daughter, I who do not resemble her,
Today look into it as into
A lake hiding treasures
Under the water.

Deep down, behind my face,
I see a young woman
With ruddy cheeks, smililng.
A wig on her head.
She fixes
A long earring to her earlobe, threading it
Through the tiny hole in the delicate flesh
Of the ear.

Deep down, behind my face, shines
The bright golden fleck in her eyes.
And the mirror maintains
The family tradition:
That she was very beautiful.

Black-and-white photo of an Edwardian-era woman in formal dress.

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