May 06

A Different Sensation

Asher Reich

This poem is the first in a new feature in Zeek: a series of translations of lesser-known Israeli poets by novelist and translator Tsipi Keller, from her forthcoming volume, Contemporary Hebrew Poetry (SUNY Press 2007). Each poem will be accompanied by a biographical profile of the poet.

Poetry will steer me to another recollection,
a different sensation: years later
your image suddenly before me
like a luminous landscape of yourself
rising from the commotion of the street.

In the unvanquished light of the sun
we met like two birds from a different summer.
You looked up and saw your son,
with the face of a heathen,
the eyes of other gods.

"What can I do, son, to bring you back?"
For a moment the sun became the warmth of the womb,
and the face that wore pain and drew me in
was my face before I was born.
All at once the world was different. I knew
what I had to know, I recalled all the possible worlds.

And so we stood in the street,
crowded by sensation,
contemplating our time unhurriedly.
A dog set his gaze on us, growling an impasse:
To bark or go past--
and the day was still imagined
and the light held her warm palm
in my hand writing this poem.



Asher Reich was born in 1937 in Jerusalem to an ultra-Orthodox family. At eighteen, though, he joined the army, and later studied Philosophy and Literature at Hebrew University. He began publishing in 1960, and was co-editor of Moznayim, the magazine of the Hebrew Writers Association. He participated in the International Writing Program at Iowa University, and his poetry is featured in numerous anthologies in Israel and in Europe. He published ten volumes of poetry, short stories, and a novel. His Selected Poems appeared in 1986 and won the Berstein Prize from the Federation of Israeli Publishers. Reich lives in Tel Aviv.