Ruth Blumert lives in Jerusalem. She has
published a novel, HaTsariach (The Tower, 1984); a collection of
short stories, HaMalach (The Angel, 1984), a collection of poems,
Golim ‘al Kochav Zar (Exiles on a Strange Planet, 1991), and a
rhymed translation of Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
(2001), as well as two children’s books, Zehirut, Mag’a Zahav
(Caution! Golden Touch!, 1987) and Ta’alumat HaOtsar be-Mikhrot HaI
Ha’Agol (The Mystery of the Treasure in the Mines of the Circular
Island, 1996). She is a former editor of BAMAH, a magazine devoted to
Many of her poems in the original Hebrew can
be viewed at
The poems below appeared in The
Neovictorian/Cochlea and The Deronda Review, and were
translated by Esther Cameron.
[untitled] ("I pray you, gather my souls") The Rivers The Last Song Light [untitled] ("We are waiting for something to happen") For the Choirmaster, on the Death of a Father [untitled] ("The Printer is slowly printing out....") Hybrid Proportions The Refusal Those Put To Death Season of Transition Spring Wind Untitled ["Let it rain"] Av 5765 The Reader of Coffee Grounds
I pray you, gather my souls like windfallen figs
before the sated herd comes back from the pastures;
cut them open one by one, watch for the worm:
it will guide you to the sweetest, to the choicest,
to my most eaten soul.
Cattle and birds and low-lying air
will break the others down, return them to the soil.
The rivers that made our land fertile
from which we greedily slaked our thirst after toil
have sunk, like us, into the earth, moistening,
at most, our bones.
The wind that led us to stray in a land without seed
and also diverted the waters into our footprints
goes on galloping through the sandy deserts
and we with the remnant of our strength following the wind
farther and farther
into the desert with the waters
following us as aforesaid,
yet with a certain respect, a kind of appreciation,
they carved paths in the rock, in the sands,
drew the map of their temporary being,
and we in the wind unwearyingly were thrown
to all the winds and spirits and out-
side the world and nature not even
an eyelash did the wind bat that flew
over our skeleton dissolving in the waters of the deep
When the time comes and the sign is given and you realize
that only you are chosen to understand and behold
and you flee from the ark and land on a branch of bitter olive
that breaks under your weighty message, the weight of your breakdown,
and your compassion carries it to the four corners of the earth
in mad centrifugal flight
you jump from the ship or ask to be thrown to the waves
to save the sailors bound
no prettified picture by Picasso
can capture the greatness of the terror
and the convulsion
in the cold belly of the fish
P.S. And the sons of the prophets, sign salesmen fattened on ascetic delights,
will crash their plane into the Utopian Islands
and submarines will explode the cliffs
THE LAST SONG
This message was honed by the beam of a laser scalpel:
No one shall write of this city
its gates have sunk down
its warfare is accomplished in puddles
don’t be glum
stay as you are
gaze down from your post as the traditional
of the impossible that might have been
had it not been for your body
so patiently sprawled on the mountains
not in the earthquake
and why not in the earthquake
not by might
and why not by might
so, intangible, unenvisioned,
knowing that every right hand that withered
and each left hand that sanctified
missed the point.
Gaze on Utopias through the heavenly window
perhaps pitying, perhaps loving
those who err
understanding that the atrophied vigil is in vail
that you have become accustomed
to not being.
Suddenly the world will become illumined. It must,
in spite of the sun and moon so busy keeping watch,
and I will laugh at its dismay
and my smile
will blare out the forgotten song.
Verily I say unto you
the light is in me
and truth and love
it’s hard to believe
this is an almost
but the light that will break forth from behind the blockade
of sun and stars
and that perhaps will vanish at the first
shadow of doubt
is as real as the sun
and more brightly blazing
the ash of my body will testify to something
or will disappear
I will understand.
In the genes of the universe I am the soul
plagued by mutations and obstacles
a problem for itself
but the soul is used to reality.
Only the soul’s love is of the hidden source
in a sphere beyond understanding
perhaps from beyond the kingdom
which no ancient city and no orient surmised
and abides in the shadow of its noble reflection.
I’ll be diagnosed as a megalomaniac
as one who has lost touch with reality
because of the truth and love that is in me.
I am sick with illuminations
I don’t know to what extent it is harmful
How shall I stand it
When will the world become illumined
as it must.
We are waiting for something to happen
Not for the Messiah nor the barbarians
They’re both here already
Perhaps the aliens will be kind to us
in their manner
their feely antennas
sensitive to the desires of the heart.
We’ve had lots of visitors
angels and prophets and vexers of spirit
juggling with human skulls
as with the terrestrial ball
that keeps getting kicked from place to place
through unknown cataclysms.
Obviously there’s a reason
but it’s complicated
and unconcerned with details
FOR THE CHOIRMASTER, ON THE DEATH OF A FATHER
Perhaps it is possible to walk on water and rocks and coarse sand
Among remains of fishes, broken shards and trash
In the sun shining on a multitude of intents and directions.
Miriam’s well is stopped up, hidden,
And the Wells of Salvation is the name of a hospital.
My father died as I was singing to him "And with my soul my body
too" in the Gates of Righteousness
Which had opened for him avidly.
Winter clouds moved windlessly aside.
Lamentation and bitter weeping silenced by shots and shells.
The sun illuminates intents and directions. On the shores of the world
they bake cakes for the Queen of Heaven,
Pondering about the spirit of sacrifice that has passed from the others
and the ideas that crashed.
How shall we sing. While the Spirit is scratched and is fainting.
On the willows within it we hung our harps.
So dreaming about nirvana like the lowest of the untouchables, on sands
White like suntanned crabs sipping something cold, expensive.
One more melody remained. A pity.
You who seek to walk on water, straight or round about, acquire thick-
Lake Ginossar has surprises. Stones also grow between the hulks of
ancient ships and fish skeletons.
Drink the Waters of Eden against the heat. Mutter something about the
world that was ruined
And be sure the art students document that.
An original subject rooted in the sources is exposed, sad, and catchy.
Go with the film to a festival
The prize will get you a spot on the edge of some Olympus so you can
devote yourself to your own existence.
Rather than to working miracles.
Of course you’ll still be concerned about the fate of the Earth and the
country and the Sea of Galilee and the well of Miriam as well as
About the extermination of lice and mutants of positive Ebola.
Hear O Israel. My heart exults over the perfection of the death of my
father in the Gates of Justice
His feet wore paths without calculation
With what gentleness he taught me to wash my hands stretched out
over the high sink
With cold water with a vessel made from a tin can that had not yet rusted.
Hand in hand we walked through the dim and crowded alleyway on a
hot summer day, he sipping tamarind juice with evident pleasure,
I skipped beside him and my new sandals got into some donkey’s dung.
We got to the steep wall growing bushes in the chinks between the stones
Then I did not know what he was doing in the soft silence and why we
did not return.
And there was the tune "Abraham rejoices Isaac sings Jacob and his sons
shall rest upon it" and after that the stars burst in the sky
And there was Havdalah.
And how did he identify the red lines before they were exposed with
Amen I say to you. Spring up, O well!
Sing about it.
The printer is slowly printing out the poem I wrote,
The paper high quality, bright white,
Clear the letters.
Was my meaning clear
Or was it some craziness bound up with bother –
Hookup of appliances that are dark to me
Obedient to writing that is dark to them.
There's beauty in that. Even a mysterious pleasure.
Something responds to my dwindling caprices
If I just send it energy.
The plastic flowers my granddaughter brought from
The red rose and the yellow rose –
I stuck them mischievously in the cracked flowerpot
Where they still bloom in the shadow of a stubborn plant.
Upon both drop the dews
Of the same providence
Sprinkling the petals of both
Which fade at different rates,
Inanimate and vegetable.
The glasses on my nose –
I’ve changed how many frames and prescriptions? –
Are part of my face.
And the scratched lenses, that steam up
Like my eyes, tired from the struggle
With their heavy lids.
Getting up too early to live
too late for daydreams
I’d cry Help!
But the rescue workers are busy
with earthquakes and leaking reactors,
I restrain myself.
Again his face is turned to the wall
Refusing to recognize
The last doctor who has arrived.
The house like a crypt in midday
And he howled when they revived him suddenly
From his recurring dream, in the garden
In the shadow of another tree.
In the windowless room, by the flickering candle
They placed a feather to spy on his breathing
Which he stopped,
Precipitately ignoring them.
The family hopes for a miracle worthy of notice
In some evangelium.
THOSE PUT TO DEATH
We practice on the deaths of others –
kin, distant kin, and so forth –
to know what will be done to us
and what is half the kingdom
and whose hand will clench
upon our soul
struggling to free itself
dying to remain
in the light –
the hidden is a temptation
one who longs and for whom we long
thus it is decreed in My thought
SEASON OF TRANSITION
I put on white clothes
innocent of grease spots
pure as the polar snow.
Now I am wrapped and enveloped
by my two green leaves:
the cradle and the wedding canopy.
One day a butterfly
will break forth from its shrouds
and fly away.
I am exhausted from following the movements of the branches in the wind:
they move with a desperate alacrity,
dust whirling round them.
In the glass of hot tea, green mint gyrates
at the touch of a silver spoon.
It will grow cold and drift to the bottom, weary and ragged.
I cover myself with clothing,
turn on all the space heaters –
the cold inside me is still wins.
Let it rain. Bring down the rain. Get everything wet.
Including the washing on the line. That is,
Turn all that is clean and dry
Into a spongy miserable cold dark mass
The events of the month of Av took place
In the blazing clarity
And there was no comforter –
Aside from words
Which sound hollow even in the dark
And there is no comforter –
We need a month of Em.
[Note: “Av,” the name of the month, also means “father – “em” is “mother.)
The first day of the week.
I thought there was no chance
But I phoned my daughter.
And she answered:
Moshe is waiting in the car.
That was apparently the last phone call to Atsmonah –
Short and to the point.
Perhaps she was crying.
THE READER OF COFFEE GROUNDS
The reader of coffee grounds turned the cup over.
There were no grounds at all.
Transparent, occluded secrets laughed silently.
But the cup twitched in the disappointed hand
Like a body
Like a dimmed crystal ball
Whose core hints:
The future is hidden
The waters of purification sink into the dust.