Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Sabbath

by Pia Tafdrup

The first Saturday is weightless and reflected monotonous
in the insects’ meditating buzz; the beginning endless
The second Saturday the city looks like a deserted ballroom
where the invited guests have gone home early
The third Saturday I am called out
to morning-drowsy plane trees along the sidewalk
and streets where cars stand parked in long rows
The dust sticks dry to shoes whose worn heels click
against the asphalt like homeless echoes
One or two dogs wander lazily about
and under the deep-sea sky washing is taken in
from balcony railings and the city’s flat roofs
Even the cash machines observe the Sabbath
like a prophecy that has been fulfilled
Still, a tribute to the Russian Church with its verdigris onion domes
and stray cats jumping around one another on the steps
Opposite, a barrier goes up for a jeep on the way out
otherwise the police station lies ecstatically empty
From pines the birds are heard, not seldom confused
with the sound of an old man who is playing a saw
and among clusters of roses the oleander blooms like wild fever
at the traffic lights near the Jaffa Gate
where groups of bird-like men with taliths
appear on foot en route to the synagogue
Mornings where Jerusalem seems no less quiet
than when Jonah slept safely on the bottom of the storm-tossed ship
as I remember it from my childhood’s sailing.

translated from Danish by David McDuff

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