Dahlia Ravikovitch – “Pride”

from Hovering at a Low Altitude: The Collected Poems of Dahlia Ravikovitch, translated by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld. I’ve been reading Ravikovitch because she is essential to reading other contemporary Israeli women poets, like, I guess, knowing Adrienne Rich is here. Everyone knows her work, everyone refers to it in some way, or has it in the background, constant commentary on or counterpoint to their own work. And some of her poems are just breathtaking! I only wish the book had the Hebrew originals so I could learn more about how these two masterful translators dealt with language issues as they went along.

Dahlia Ravikovitch

Even rocks crack, I tell you,
and not on account of age.
For years they lie on their backs in the cold and the heat,
so many years,
it almost creates the impression of calm.
They don’t move, so the cracks can hide.
A kind of pride.
Years pass over them as they wait.
Whoever is going to shatter them
hasn’t come yet.
And so the moss flourishes, the seaweed is cast about,
the sea bursts out and slides back,
and it seems the rocks are perfectly still.
Till a little seal comes to rub against them,
comes and goes.
And suddenly the stone has an open wound.
I told you, when rocks crack, it happens by surprise.
Not to mention people.


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