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Jews in the Land of Israel

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Jews in the Land of Israel

Guest Chef Yehuda Amichai | Poem | Alphabet Audio Soup
Image by Nick Brundle Photography
When things get tough, I often find myself going back to an old poem by Yehuda Amichai. I’m a story guy, not a poetry guy, but Amichai has a special status for me. Sometimes my reading of a poem is fast and superficial: I dash through the lines like a congregant trying to finish his prayers as soon as possible so he can get back to the chaos of life. When I read an Amichai poem in that harrowed, unreceptive state, I’m not digging deep and taking it in, but simply running along the lines looking for a phrase or image I can pull out, observe, and ask: How did these words feel the last time I read them, and how do they feel now? Amichai’s poems offer many of these Rorschach inkblots that can connect you with yourself and illuminate something about your condition in the moment. The last time I read “Jews in the Land of Israel,” the lines that embedded themselves in me like a thorn I may never be able to extract were these:
Spilled blood is not the roots of trees
but it’s the closest thing to roots
we have.
Poetry might not be able to explain my bleak state of mind these days, but at the moment it’s the closest thing I have.

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Intro translated by Jessica Cohen

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Etgar Keret