In the Middle of This Century
In the middle of this century we turned to each other
With half faces and full eyes
like an ancient Egyptian picture
And for a short while.
I stroked your hair
In the opposite direction to your journey,
We called to each other,
Like calling out the names of towns
Where nobody stops
Along the route.
Lovely is the world rising early to evil,
Lovely is the world falling asleep to sin and pity,
In the mingling of ourselves, you and I,
Lovely is the world.
The earth drinks men and their loves
And like the contours of the Judean hills,
We shall never find peace.
In the middle of this century we turned to each other,
I saw your body, throwing shade, waiting for me,
The leather straps for a long journey
Already tightening across my chest.
I spoke in praise of your mortal hips,
You spoke in praise of my passing face,
I stroked your hair in the direction of your journey,
I touched your flesh, prophet of your end,
I touched your hand which has never slept,
I touched your mouth which may yet sing.
Dust from the desert covered the table
At which we did not eat
But with my finger I wrote on it
The letters of your name.
(Translated by Assia Gutmann)