All My Bones / The Morning After

All my bones will say woman.
All my bones say woman.
Why do you curve.
Why do you adapt.
Why do you embody pity.
Lips rounded
Your streets are lucid smiles
Your palate candied.
Your bones are bleached deep
Your lips two weekdays sealed
With golden twine.
Your lakes are ancient dreams
Crucified with primordial blue
Like two aged warriors of wisdom
Your blessings are borders that burst
Your roses archived,
Your timing revealed,
Suspended, graceful as deer
Freed from the bridle,
Alienated from the python.
Look not upon me
because I am,
because I was.
I am
White as the abyss of snowy mountains,
Scorched by honesty,
My womanhood cast
Into shattered cisterns of interpretation.


The Morning After

The next morning
An imitation of a poem is written
Without waiting for words,
Its language giving tone to letters,
Probing syllables
Deep in their beginning.
She who follows
Buries her head in lower case.
The end deduces the beginning
All the syllables are a treasure
All the treasures are hidden
All the syllables are stored
Each breath disrupts thought
Each combination entering the world
Is the next one.


כל עצמותי

כּלָ עַצְמוֹתַי תֹּאמַרְנָה אִשָּׁה
כּלָ עַצְמוֹתַי אוֹמְרוֹת אִשָּׁה
מָה לךְָ מִתְעַגֶּלֶת
מָה לךְָ מִסְתַּגֶּלֶת
מָה לךְָ מְרֻחֶמֶת
מָה לָךְ
אַגְּנוֹת שְׂפָתַיִם
רְחוֹבוֹתַיִךְ חִיּוּכִים זַכִּים
חִכֶּךְ מַמְתַּקִּים
עַצְמוֹתַיִךְ לֹבֶן בּוֹהֵק מַעֲמַקִּים
שִׂפְתוֹתַיִךְ שְׁניֵ יְמוֹת חֹל חֲתוּמִים
בִּשְׁנִי הַזָּהָב
אֲגמַַּיִךְ חֲלוֹמוֹת עַתִּיקִים
צְלוּבִים בִּכחְוֹל הָרֵאשִׁית
כִּשְִׁניֵ לוֹחֲמֵי חָכְמְָה עַתִּיקִים
בִּרְכוֹתַיִךְ סְיָגיֵ גּבְוּל מִתְפַּקְּעִים
שׁוֹשַׁנּיִַךְ גּנְוּזיִם
עִתּוֹתַיִךְ גּלְוּיוֹת
תְּלוּיוֹת, לוְִיוֹת חֵן, אַיָּלוֹת
שְׁלוּחוֹת רְסָנִים
.מִתְנַכְּרוֹת לִפְִתָנִים
אַל תִּרְאוּנִי שֶׁאֲנִי
לְבְָנָה כְּמוֹ תְּהוֹם הֲרָרִים מֻשְׁלגָיִם
כּיִ שְׁזָפַנִי הַיֹּשֶׁר
אֶת נָשִׁיּוּתִי הַבּוֹהֶקֶת
לְבֹארֹת נִשְִׁבָּרִים

בבוקר הבא

בַּבֹּקֶר הַבָּא
.שִׁיר חִקּוּי נִכְתָּב
בְּלִי לְחַכּוֹת לְמִלִּים
שְׂפָתוֹ מַצְלִילָה אֶת הָאוֹתִיּוֹת
וְטוֹמֶנֶת אֶת הַתֵּבוֹת
.עָמֹק בְּרֵאשִׁיתָן
כָּל הַמִּתְחַקֶּה אַחַר הָרֵאשִׁית
טוֹמֵן רֹאשׁוֹ בְּתֵבָה
– סוֹפוֹ מַקִּישׁ לְרֵאשִׁיתוֹ
כָּל הַתֵּבוֹת הֵן אוֹצָר
כָּל הָאוֹצָרוֹת טְמוּנִים
כָּל הַתֵּבוֹת אֲצוּרוֹת
כָּל נְשִׁימָה פּוֹרַעַת מַחְשָׁבָה
כָּל צֵרוּף
הַבָּא לָעוֹלָם
הַבָּא הוּא

Translator’s Note

I am deeply attracted to poetry that is open to the world, but also holds secrets. This is especially pertinent to the act of translation, in which words are filtered through the delicate prism of language, culture, and history. The poetry of Michaela Lamdan lends itself so beautifully to this. Her words are simple yet complex, the meaning hovers beneath the words, waiting to be discovered. Michaela Lamdan’s poetry weaves a delicate and often whimsical message that is layered through time and history. Her work delves into Jewish mysticism but never forgets the here and now of the world we live in.

Joanna ChenJoanna Chen’s poetry, essays, and literary translations have been published most recently in Guernica, Mantis, Poetry International, and Asymptote, among others. She authors a column in The Los Angeles Review of Books. In 2016, Less Like a Dove, a collection of translated poetry, was published by Shearsman Books.

Michaela LamdanMichaela Lamdan is an Israeli poet and literary editor. Her first collection of poetry, Between the Clothing and the Body, was published in 2009. She is the recipient of the 2009 Sheindel Yizraeli Prize and the 2016 Weizmann Institute Prize for the Encouragement of Creativity, among others. Lamdan teaches creative writing at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. She is a member of the Israeli Film Writer’s Association and is presently working on a second book of poetry and a film script. She lives in Jerusalem.