LEA TANZMAN APPELMAN
   
   
     

LEA TANZMAN APPELMAN

Lea Tanzman Appelman z"l (1926-2006) obtained her Ph.D. in English from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her books include Symbolism in Melvilleís Pierre, Symbolism in Six Novels of William Golding, A Theory of the Creative Process, and Killing Will: The Fitterman Syndrome  which it is our privilege to post here in its entirety.  Her poems have appeared in many Hebrew and English periodicals in Israel. The poems below were selected from her collection, B'Oto Reg'a (That Moment), which received the Keren Amos prize shortly before her death and is being prepared for publication in Israel..  Most were written in Hebrew; translations are by Ada Aharoni, Esther Cameron, Hadassah Haskale, Ruth Finer Mintz, Lea Tanzman Appelman, and Yosef Yehezel.

from THAT MOMENT

Here Festival   *   That Moment   *   The Memorial Service   *   The Broca Center  *   The Scales of Justice   *   Mrs. Salinger   *   Twenty Six Words  *   Twilight   *   180 Degree Turn   *   In spite of all  *  Alienation  *  Fluid Time  *  On the Threshold  *  Confession *   180 Degree Turn   *   Slowdown   *   Faithfully   *   Tiredness  *   Concert on His 70-th Birthday   *   The Dead Cat   *   Desire   *   Bird running about on the patio  *   Attempt at Reconstruction   *   Open the gate   *   Comfortable   *   De Profundis   *   The Girls were little   *   A Pack of sharks   *   The stone/path   *   Oedipus at Colonus   *   Cronos   *   In the Morning   * Instructions for assembling    *  The Road   *   Truly   *    A Twin Poem    *    A Short happy -- stop -- poem

 

HERE FESTIVAL

 

Here           now

is                festival

with     flowers

and     music

 

and the apple

                                (English original)

------------------

 

THAT MOMENT

 

that moment a year ago

I wore a brown coat

and a red scarf

and I was exposed

 

that moment a year ago

the wound opened

poured blood

 

that moment a year ago

the wound on my knee

opened its mouth

poured blood

 

I was still

 

that moment a year ago

that moment a year ago

T h a t    M o m e n t    A    Y e a r    A g o

 

                                       (translated by Hadassah Haskale)

------------------

 

THE MEMORIAL SERVICE

 

Yesterday I went to my memorial service

at the service they called me

Mrs.

and Mrs.

I      cried

because

No

One

from

the     family

had    come

to    the    memorial

                                       (  Each   and    his    own    madness

                                          Each   one    and   his      pain        )

Except     my    children

 

and

a    few

neighbours

that

happened

by

                                  (translated by Yosef Yehezkel)

------------------

 

THE BROCA CENTER*

 

I cried.

Drops of blood

fell on the floor

and continued.

The professor

continued

to sepak

on the Broca Center

on the left

temporal lobe

I had a big notebook

blue with

spirals.

I stopped

writing              I didn't know

how                  to stop

the blood          I couldn't

cry                    more

strongly

only

blood

I didn't find

a way

I didn't leave.

After that the lecture

stopped

The drops stopped

I wiped

some

of the blood

off the floor

and left

                          (translated by Hadassah Haskale)

 

----------------

 

 

THE SCALES OF JUSTICE

 

Honorable judge

Heavy with honour

Short

Wigged with greyed hair

Black robed

And on his chest

Chequerboard woven squares

Diagonally moulded into the wool

The color of pale grey

Friendly

Very much so

*

And I

Then

In    all     innocence

Shouted

 

                         (translated by Lami Halperin)

 

----------------

 

MRS. SALINGER

 

asks             me              whether           I

write              and I              am wondering

whether              to tell her          that I

write.        I answer        her         that I

write         yes                      I write.

In my        hand                    I am holding

my yellow        pencil           with          the eraser

at the end          that Iíve been working with

lately.         She asks         me         the

terrible       question                 whether

it was worth it       only            itís phrased

differently:            whether

it had to be          this

way.          I answer           her       that today

thereís no need to ask                   that

question.       Since           it is          this

way                it must       have had to be      this

way.                  I ask              her

where they are               living          in Jerusalem.

 

                                                            (translated by Esther Cameron)

 

----------------

 

TWENTY SIX WORDS

                                                                                             to Yaron

A man mounts                                                            I

an angle                                                                      go up

between       2       walls                                              with him

several        stories      high                                          behind

trying                                                                          the back-gallery

to raise                                                                                                  masked .

a womanís       head                                                   He holds

pictured                   there                                           my hand         lightly

huge                                                                           or                 doesnít .

                                  bodiless                                   Darkness .

like                                                                            But

an                       advertisement                                  we           managed

painted                                                                      Moment    of      light

painted                                                                      Signal

                 laughing                                                    to             public .

 

                                                                        (translated by Hadassah Haskale)

 

----------------

 

TWILIGHT

 

of     remembered     shapes

and    remembered     pathos

 

or

rather

 

the    mild    light    and

shade    play    of    actual    forms

 

and    the    sharpness

           the    sharpness

 

of    remembered    shapes

 

upon the wall

 

                           (English original)

 

-----------------

 

 

IN SPITE OF ALL

 

sitting   at   the   table

in   the    early    afternoon

feeling    indistinctly   we are living   in   paradise

 

with    the expanse    of    garden    sunlight    houses    view    and    tower

on my right

 

and    the    silken    violet-blue    flowers

on    my    motherís    dress

on    my    left.

 

                                   (English original)

 

-----------------

 

for Ben Zion

A  L  I  E  N  A  T  I  O  N

 

Write     us    today    the    nascence    of    the    world

 

When    you    were    still    a    stranger

And    we    as    yet    unacquainted    with    sin

 

When    the    mountains    were    high    upon    the     horizon

And    the    skies    were    high    above    the    horizon

 

 

And    the    skies    were    seen    far    out    above    the    horizon

                                                                                           quiescent

 

                                                         (translated by Josef Yehezkel)

 

----------------

 

F L U I D      T I M E

 

very    often

very    tired

you    wanted    time

                        fluid    around   you

 

with    glowing    golden    copper    coins

                                                      elongated

served

on    small

oval-shaped

herring    glass-plates

 

and   scars    in   flesh

don't    heal    by   definition.

 

                               (English original)

 

-----------------

 

On    the    threshold

 

In    the    store

overflowing    with    people

materials    hang

pink  satin    pillowcases

a   shop

 

for    brides

 

I   heard

someone    laugh

when   I   turn   around

in   the   gold    framed   mirror

I   saw   

 

my wet tears

 

                                         (translated by Ruth Finer Mintz)

 

-----------------

 

CONFESSION

 

I said the confession

without fervor          without hope

without wanting to

 

without compulsion    external     or      internal

(or perhaps      some       external)

against my will

 

I       trampled the courts

without conviction

against my will

 

my mouth

tore at it

my hands

 

like a drunken woman

without wits

against my will

 

                         (translated by Esther Cameron)

 

--------------------

 

180 DEGREE TURN

 

And I was free

 

I just

forgot

forgot

that the mouth

must

remain

closed

 

and one         must         take

a line

a line

a line

not

not

not           a straight       line

 

that's

against

the rules

 

                           (translated by Esther Cameron)

 

----------------

 

SLOWDOWN

 

A slowdown      is needed

in the rate          of the pulse

the gears           of thought

 

a revolving

motion

 

A slowdown

is needed

in the rate

of the pulse

 

A slowdown

is needed

in the rate

      the rate

the rate

          of thought

          revolving

          around

 

                            (translated by Esther Cameron)

 

--------------------

 

FAITHFULLY

 

I take off          and put on            that

hide                 of an elephant

according to     plan

 

A single           garment

that serves       me

faithfully

 

excuse me

 

that serves      her

faithfully

 

                            (translated by Esther Cameron)

 

----------------------

 

TIREDNESS

 

After

 

everything                          fell

the bottom

they called                         the gray                     ocean

fell                                                           first

 

                                                                           (translated by Esther Cameron)

 

---------------------------

 

For violinist Leon J. Goldman

who heard Yehudi play at seventeen:

                 CONCERT ON HIS 70-TH BIRTHDAY

 

                                     barely touched

                                                   the         barge

blond women                              in           black

lace

velvet

 

                                                  the         face

 

lighted

upturned

high

 

                                                  firm       stance

 

rosy

fingers

barely touching

 

lights                         diamonds

flowers

 

                                        (English original)

 

------------------

 

THE DEAD CAT

 

At        the corner

on the way         to Mother

I so much       did not want

my little      daughter

to see

 

it was

only

three         snow-

covered   stones

 

that    dead    cat    follows    me

sometimes

 

                                (E.C.)

 

--------------------------

 

DESIRE

 

I am left

 

with one

desire

 

stronger

 

than all

the others

 

a strong

desire

to weep

to my heartís

 

content.

 

                         (translated by Esther Cameron)

 

------------------

 

THURSDAY A.M.

 

Last night I dreamed                           I was in

Mr Finemanís office applying for work.

He didnít have time.                           The office was rather

dark, he                                             looked somewhat like

the man with        a bit                        of a beard who

used to audit                                      Personality.

He told me                                        write. I said

no    because last    year                    I wrote just

for the record and they                      answered me

in the negative as if                  I had really applied

and that offended me.

          he told me      send                part of your work

the part about                                 character.

so unlike                                         Fineman

to be interested                               in character

I told                                       him my whole work

is character                                     and Iíd send him

the key                                           and some other material.

on that                                            we concluded.

 

                                                               (translated by Esther Cameron)

 

-----------------------

 

AFTER    THE    PLEASURE    PARTY

 

We had tall drinks

out of tall glasses

in the twilight

 

in the cafeteria

we sipped cold drinks

out of wet glasses

 

after the pleasure party

 

in the evening

 

we trod the wet grass

after the pleasure party

 

for the last time

and refused

 

we sipped the cold evening

out of the tall grass

 

we touched the pleasure

we trod the wet grass

after the pleasure party

 

after the sun had sunk

 

for the last time

and refused

 

                         (English original)

 

-----------------------

 

BLACK SHADOW OF A LILY

 

On the white wall

in a night of waiting

 

the shadow of a white lily

large and fragrant

on the white wall

in a night of waiting

 

the shadow

a black lily

on the white wall

 

shadow

lily

on the wall

 

my street is quiet in the night of waiting

 

the shadow

of a white

lily

is a charm

 

the shadow of a white

lily

is a charm

spellbound

 

my street is quiet in the night of waiting

 

the glass door to my balcony is open

 

the car does not come

the lights of the car

do not shake

the petals

of the white lily

 

the headlights have nailed

the pattern of a white lily

to the white wall

nailed it there

 

the wind does not stir

the black skin

of the white lily

 

my street is quiet in the night of waiting

 

the wind does not stir

the black skin

of the pure

white lily

 

the wind does not stir

 

                                     (translated by Esther Cameron)

 

--------------------

 

AND I AM JUST

 

flesh       and blood

flesh       and blood

just    blood     and flesh

 

a blood-           mark

on my              face

blood

on my             face

 

and I am just

blood

blood       that sings

blood       that screams

 

and I am       just

blood

 

and I    am    just    flesh    and    blood

                                  (translated by Esther Cameron)

 

-------------------------

 

LAMENTATION

 

How do      we sit      on the ruins     of our houses

functioning

as if      nothing       had happened

 

I saw              on       stone

a drawing       of      a man

who forgot    that he had     no    guitar     and went on     strumming

 

                                                 (translated by Esther Cameron)

 

-----------------------------

 

EXPERIMENTS

 

The young birds grow

on the trees

like figs

 

and words fly away

like birds

which are not to return

 

and the blossoms

grow to fruit

heavier than I

 

 

 

 

can

carry

                             (translated by Esther Cameron)

 

--------------------------

 

THE GIRLS WERE LITTLE

 

THE GIRLS WERE LITTLE

There was much pain

 

 

THE FUTURE

The kind that shall come

Belonged to us.

 

                           (translated by the author)

 

----------------------

 

                                    TO CHAVA WITH LOVE

                                 Birds running about on the Patio

 

These are

the best

moments

in life

I said to Miky

 

I count

these moments

among the best

in my life

 

Liran is running around in a dress with violet-blue polka dots which Chava sent

with Merav on the flat stone steps

 

Against a background of white tables and chairs in the strong sunlight of late afternoon

 

And Liran said I want you to take my drawing and carry it to Chava by plane

 

And after that a bird came up to the middle of the lawn

like an overgrown sparrow black all over

 

Following on her tail

another bird came with a scepter

on her head

 

And half her body scales of dull gold

and she fled, flew away with the black one chasing

 

                                                     (translated by Lami Halperin with Eva Avi-Yonah)

 

-------------------------

 

ATTEMPT AT RECONSTRUCTION

 

The last moments

could no longer be reconstructed now

at the official ceremony no one spoke

of technical details

of the burnt body

"May    they    rest    in    peace"

the final despair

the flames

it was expected anyhow with the help of the tape box

that was found

 

at first the strong cold

over the whole body     without meaning

heat of all the flames

first in the eye

the muddle of the noise

 

the mind works quickly

 

the flames too

quickly

 

this is a day of reading

this is a day of reading     crying and shrieking

and then only a day of rending

and then only a day of reading and rending

 

"Shout with the throat"

 

thoughts      quickly

the attempt

to escape

to       earth

 

"to the final rest

in the bosom of the earth"

 

there    was    no    room

only

"for eternal rest

among brothers"

 

only     the senses           the madness

only    the    loss   of   the   senses

light great                    and awful

skin great                   and awful

skin awful                  body

body large

and awful                  the corpse

 

the thoughts are not worth speaking of

anyway one could not reconstruct

the tapebox

did not provide the answer

Ah.    Brothers.    Ah.

 

                                 (translated by Ruth Finer Mintz)

 

--------------------

 

STASIS

 

Light

that     is     not    light

not    darkness

not    light    of    street   lamps

translucent

and standing

 

Motionless a wave

of time

without crease

 

within the horizon of street and garden

 

There remains the attempt

to set

this light

with exactitude

upon the curve

of time

 

                        (translated by Ruth Finer Mintz)

 

--------------------------

 

Open the gate for us even at the closing of the Gate

The possibilities         and the probabilities

were good         and many

 

The contraction in the size of P occurred in stages

at first only a few seconds were lacking for the escape

 

after-that

 

feet                    hobbled

and hands

eyes                  tied for the removal

 

suddenly           shots

 

the door is open

        

                                   (translated by Ruth Finer Mintz)

[Note: In statistics, P stands for the probability of success]

 

----------------------------

 

For Fruma Bregman

                    (1900-1973)

COMFORTABLE

 

They       lowered her      down

             made her        comfortable

hands         no longer      tied

for fear          she would yank              out

the tube

 

Leib Rochman           spoke

a eulogy

 

then

we

left

 

                        (translated by Esther Cameron)

 

--------------------

 

DE PROFUNDIS

                             to Dr. M.M. Fitterman

 

We had come               to Psalm 130

I stood                         in the shade

 

photographing

now       and

then

praying     faster    than      the others

 

finally                him

that is         the parcel          with            his name

 

                                   (translated by Esther Cameron)

 

-----------------------------

 

For Elisheva Landmann

A PACK OF SHARKS

 

Unaccepted

 

She created landscapes

painted with dark blues and greys      dark

And taunt           some with splashes of yellow

 

Wrote slicing steel

A pack of sharks into flesh

 

Made hard ceramics

Masks                       bisected        faces

                                  pink    and    bright violet

Splitting into twos      man    and    woman

 

She was free to go

 

At last accepted         into    this    earth

                                   Mount of Olives

 

                                                        (translated by Josef Yehezkel)

 

----------------------------

 

GIGANTIC BLACK BIRD

 

in profile

hovering     on    my home street

breast     even    with the housefront

at the crossing

 

wet hair combed back in swift flight      like a horse

she is      huge

 

at second-     or third-floor      height

illuminated      by the blue flare

of neon

 

                                    (translated by Esther Cameron)

 

----------------------------

 

ASCENT FROM THE UNDERWORLD

 

The bough

 

lies before me

leafless

bare

 

with my right

hand

with the palm

and fingers

I touch

the tip

 

and green leaves start forth

from the tip

as I continue

touching the bough

with my fingers

 

at natural intervals

asymmetrically

the beautiful green

leaves

 

growth

of perfect green

leaves

on both sides

of the bough

 

I had only

to put forth

my hand

 

                            (translated by Esther Cameron)

 

------------------------------

 

LEGEND

 

The plaque by the door-bell

Glossy red-orange

Glazed ceramic

Broad and rectangular

 

Instead of legend

Signs of uprooting in white ceramic

Diagonally

Like nails              that have gouged out

 

                                            (translated by Josef Yehezkel)

 

--------------------

 

FRAMES

 

i        In   the   tub

         I   sharpen    my    nails

         To   dig   them   into

         The   palms   of   my   hands

 

ii        Fingers

         Strong

         Against   the   wall

          Unrelenting

 

iii        Languid   street    scene

          On   the   left   side   of   the   room

 

iv        The    wall   receding    micron    by    micron

 

v          The     scene    in    the    picture            in  the   nickel    frame

            On    the    left    walll                            near    at    hand

 

                                                    (translated by Josef Yehezkel)

 

---------------------

 

A QUICK GLIMPSE WITHOUT LICENCE

 

upon translucent          stones

in         my         possession

 

glistening

mountings

glistening

silvery

massive

strewn

 

Kept

behind lock

wide open

 

Surprising

star         gleam

Intimately       hear

So     close       at          hand

Not    mine

 

                        (translated by Josef Yehezkel)

 

-----------

 

UTILITY

 

"In    another    three    weeks"

But    then   /   would   already   be   late    /    much   too

Too    late

Unless   someone    will    want

Will   want

Someone

To    use

The    green-black    scarf

While   mourning   /    for   crying   into

 

For    me

                                (translated by Josef Yehezkel)

 

------------------------

 

THE STONE/PATH

 

On this stone path

Among the

Green weeds

 

For this stone

For this

Memorial weight

On the path of the words that lead

For the letters

 

I gave

 

                                         (translated by Hadassah Haskale)

 

------------------------

 

OEDIPUS AT COLONUS

 

A -

ll    I    know

The    wide        o -

pen    mouth

shaking with the stasis

of the dead

sob. Holl -

Ow.

The    hollOw

sockets of

the tearless eyes

 

now

 

The last straw

The last remnant of classical culture

                          or any culture

 

O!

                          (English original)

 

--------------------------

 

CRONOS

 

Half     the     stone    face

of the illustrious

Empress

Theodora

of the chapel royal

of Ravenna

 

 on the face

of the gold leaf

beaten so fine

                     blinding

 

facing

the halved       face

of the    young    girl

sentient

 

Oh   sorrow    of    pain

striving   toward     halo of stone

              toward     face of stone

                                     broken

 

                                                 (translated by Ruth Finer Mintz)

 

----------------

 

IN THE MORNING, ON THE RADIO

 

The end of night

a howling of dogs

in the last dream

 

The moonís light

stretched taut

like gum

 

One could go mad

another soldier dead in the canal.

 

                                (translated by Hadassah Haskale)

 

---------------

 

END OF SUMMER

 

I am cutting

empty

pieces

of paper

 

and looking

at them

 

                         (translated by the author)

 

--------------------

 

INSTRUCTIONS FOR ASSEMBLING

 

Take a man and a woman

Cut them in the middle

And join them the other way around

Like

A womanís face

Shadowed on one side

And shining

On the other

 

A candle

Shining

In darkness

And shedding light

On

Bare walls

 

And two puppies

On the surface

Of a red bakelite

Medallion

Gallop from the bottomland of memory

As emblems of separation

 

The city

Flung itself in my eyes

In handfuls

 

                            (translated by Esther Cameron)

 

-------------------

 

THE ROAD

 

All

the roads

are barred

a pit

beneath

my feet.

 

All

the roads

are open

(apparently)

the net

is spread.

                          (translated by Ada Aharoni)

 

--------------------

 

TRULY

 

the gods

love

the young

 

the gods

love

the young

truly

 

the gods

love

the young

truly

those who are

dead

 

truly

 

                             (translated by Esther Cameron)

 

-------------------

 

A TWIN POEM

 

i         Letters

          hiding them on the ocean-floor

         and putting them out to dry

 

         island

         visible

               afar

 

        signal

        radiating

        around it

 

ii      The island

 

       mount

       visible

       from

       afar

 

       haze of mist

       sun hidden

 

       signal

       radiating

 

                                    (English original)

 

------------------

 

A     SHORT    HAPPY ---- STOP ---- POEM

 

Yes

This too is possible

 

We went out

on the Sabbath

Before noon

 

with our baby

with my baby-girl

in a carriage

 

Me

my husband

And Mother

 

A great light

sun

And a pink silk blanket

 

Nostalgia

consumed me

beforehand

 

                               (translated by Hadassah Haskale)