Poems of the Great Fire

Massive forest fires raged in Israel during August. Israeli poet Eliaz Cohen wrote "The entire Jewish story ablaze again at once." Poem.

Eliaz Cohen, poet ,

Jerusalem forest fire in Ein Kerem
Jerusalem forest fire in Ein Kerem
Flash 90

On the night of the great fire I was mesmerized

I was addicted to fire

To the nature that consumes itself

To the terrible beauty

In the disaster of others

*

So much the fire destroyed:

Six million trees

Twenty-four thousand turtles

(who treated each other with respect and crawled patiently to their deaths)

Rare orchid tubers

Species of lizards and small mammals

And my soul

*

All night the fire burned, raging

In the woods. Some escaped between the pages of the scroll

In the Forest of the Martyrs. Eight meters of bronze

In which Korczak and the figure of R. Aryeh Levin were cast together.

The lips of an immigrant kiss the ashen ground and a pioneer woman bears a jug.

The entire Jewish story ablaze again at once

*

In the scroll, in the midst of the fiery parchment

Rapaport cast David too

Playing music and receiving the passersby

Now I lift up my voice drier than embers

To these burnt ones, to the mountains

*

And he does not come, my help,

And will not come the next day,

A red sun will burn again in the smoke

Boys and old men will cease to exist again

Again the wilderness will suffocate the heavens

And the streets of my city.

*

On the second night of the great fire, I was again mesmerized

I was addicted again to the fire

To the nature that consumes itself

To the terrible beauty

In the disaster of others

And I wanted to run to the fire

To be like the madmen

In the absent woods

To emerge another, Elul-like

On both sides

(Elul 5771, August - September 2021)

Translated from the Hebrew by Larry Barak

Eliaz Cohen is a well known Israeli poet, editor of the "Mashiv Haruach" magazine and leader of the "Eretz Lekulam" movement. He lives at Kibbutz Kfar Etzion.



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