Maya Kuperman

from "Mother Tongue"
Translation by Ran Shevi and Rotem Tashach.


Tel Aviv-Haifa line, a quarter to midnight.
Under the seats, among the passenger's luggage
your frightened doe eyes hunt my gaze.
Greetings to your reflection.
Tonight I shall ask to know you just with a touch of narrow pupils.
No less, no more.


Have you noticed?
When I bleed sparks from my eyes
your paper body is no longer set aflame.
Crying, too, has become familiar between us.
Like sand in a vagabond's eyes, like a stone in a shoe, we've grown used
to its anesthetizing presence in our lives.
I’ve never stopped asking for you
But you’ve long ceased to apologize.
A thinly winged bird, striking its beak on my lips, tell me
How come that you've learnt to accept my insatiable hunger, annihilating
me piece by piece


And what truth is it that insists on speaking tonight?


Tel Aviv-Haifa line, five past midnight.
Alone in the cabin I wander like sleep from seat to seat.
Please, your tightly resting knees,
So that I could sit and describe to you the details of my day,
as I was


Let my touch sprout between your legs.
The night is shedding itself off the day.
Why won't you undress as well?


But more than your body I covet your sleep.
The moment you go back to being the child whom you ordered yourself
to leave.


Like a devoted worshiper shoving notes into the Wailing Wall
I whisper to your body cracks:
"Be mine", I mutter behind your knees, "Don't leave me," (under your
nails), “Don't ever let me wake up” (in the gap between your breasts).


“Keep on walking, for if you do not starve,
and do not grow full, you'll die barefoot, anonymous of need,
wearing mistakes like skin,
as you are, an orphan of yourself”


Towards evening the skies spell your name with stars.
A raw moon is mocking me.
An utterly bent milky way when you're not standing in-between,
and my hand is reaching out to the biggest dipper of them all longing for
to the life preceding the big bang, revealing and covering the most
convincing loss at which I shall ever arrive,
that which came before you as well.


It happens that your eyes glisten in the dark.
Well versed in the language of forests, picking cherries with your lips and
they answer you, giving themselves to your tongue.
Like them, naked on the cutting board
I have waited for you for years to perform a parting on me
in the glare of the knife of your gaze.


From house to house light-footed I'd run and roar:
"who is my mother, who is my father?"
At times a warm and comforting hand would suddenly appear.
At times the space of question would be severed by a black and chilling
I shall ask for both.


In a different life I would be your mother, and I would not leave you.
In a different life you would be.


I am the foreign organ which your body continues to reject even ten, even
twenty years after its birth.
Your daughter.


Till where will you throw the strangeness,
the faint claim of closeness, which blood holds
The in vain between us?


At three o'clock in the morning lightning, followed by thunder outlines
the end of the night slamming against the shutters.
I kiss my mother's temple which pulsates flight
and releasing my father's grip on his throat.
I cover my sister, who mutters in her sleep.
Placing between them my coiled sheddings,
I leave the house with my eyes shut.
Only outside I will open them and say, first whispering, then a shout:
Now, now


Maya Kuperman is a poet, born in Haifa, Israel, in 1982. Her first poems were published in the groundbreaking magazine MITA´AM, edited by Yitzhak Laor. The poems here come from her first book, "Mother Tongue". She has been translated into English, Portuguese and German. Maya Kuperman lives and works in Berlin, Germany.