Atar Hadari


Atar Hadari


The little altar of flowers and red
Crepe poppies, bottles empty as bells,
Caskets and the tiny un-ageing poppet
In the photograph on the cross.

I go by every second day,
Wondering who changes the flowers
By the side of the church a small arcade
Of people not buried with stones and briars.

Then suddenly, a woman, not wise
And white, as if her child were taken
When she knew how to cope, if such expertise
Ever comes to grieving,

But crouched there over the flowers
A woman no older than the thirty
Bars separate the church grounds from the yard
Where my children are alive and playing.

She looks at me and I rush on
Not meeting eyes where light has vanished,
Lest something come to steal my son
And all the light in heaven not permit another morning.

When I look back there’s no one there.
My children play, I climb the staircase
And notice flowers there once more fresh
And walk, where bubbles in the river congregate

Without being lost among the throng,
Rise without a stay or hindrance,
Fly without flowers wilting on their gleam,
Pop without the possibility of being crushed or missed.

Atar Hadari’s “Songs from Bialik: Selected Poems of H. N. Bialik” (Syracuse University Press) was a finalist for the American Literary Translators’ Association Award and his debut poetry collection, “Rembrandt’s Bible,” was published by Indigo Dreams. “Lives of the Dead: Poems of Hanoch Levin” is forthcoming from Arc Publications. He is a member of the BML music theatre workshop and currently contributes a monthly verse bible translation column to MOSAIC magazine.