Poem | Apple of Imperfection

By | Sep 26, 2021


While ordinary speech may bewilder or enlighten, a poem can do both at once. These lines by Varda Genossar seem to suggest the history of a romance—or a life. A caution as well as a comfort, “Apple of Imperfection” admits to love’s confusions while extolling its primacy. Here is American poet Barbara Goldberg’s translation alongside Varda Genossar’s original Hebrew.
-Jody Bolz, poetry editor

Apple of Imperfection

First speech is the speech
of love. Let me make of it
foundation and roof. Dwell there
as in a house of flame. Second speech
is the speech of war, one of us
lost, staggering under the weight
of knowing. It could be worse.
Third speech is the speech
of understanding. If you’re ready
to fall as the apple falls from the tree,
a kind of beginning. Fourth speech
is a beginning, as tentative
as the aftermath of an illness.
It’s possible to come and go
out of shame, as if it were
a suit of fire, no match
for one another, on purpose. And finally
the intent, an invisible signature
of understanding, cross-stitched
with need. Last speech,

תַּפּוּחַ הַכְּאֵב

דִּבּוּר רִאשׁוֹן הוּא דִּבּוּר אַהֲבָה.
תֵּן לִי לַעֲשׂוֹת אוֹתוֹ כְּמַסָּד וּטְפָחוֹת,
לְהִתְגּוֹרֵר בּוֹ כְּמוֹ בְּבֵית לֶהָבָה.
דִּבּוּר שֵׁנִי הוּא דִּבּוּר מִלְחָמָה,
אֶחָד מֵאִתָּנוּ עוֹמֵד אָבוּד,
מִתַּחַת לַחַץ הַדַּעַת,
יָכוֹל לִהְיוֹת רַע יוֹתֵר, אֲבָל
אֲנִי מְקַוָּה.
דִּבּוּר שְׁלִישִׁי – דִּבּוּר הֲבָנָה,
אִם אַתָּה מוּכָן לִפֹּל כְּמוֹ תַּפּוּחַ
מִן הַקֵּץ, כְּמוֹ סוּג שֶׁל
דִּבּוּר רְבִיעִי הוּא הַתְחָלָה,
בְּקֹשִׁי, כְּמוֹ אַחֲרֵי מַחֲלָה,
אָז אֶפְשָׁר לָבוֹא וְלָצֵאת
מִתּוֹךְ הַבּוּשָׁה, כְּאִלּוּ הָיְתָה חֲלִיפָה
עֲשׂוּיָה בְּכַוָּנַת מְחִילָה,
הִיא כַּפָּרָתִי הִיא חֲלִיפָתִי,
דִּבּוּר אַחֲרוֹן:

Varda Genossar, author of five books of poetry, is an art curator and former director of the Artists’ Residence in Herzliya, Israel. Translation by Barbara Goldberg.

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