In line at the drinking fountain desert bus stop years of complete blackness you bring back with you, circa, 1968, that took me through several states, some of which I would have to ask kind strangers to name so I would know where I was. But that's no big deal.
Turning so effortlessly you wouldn’t call it that, what they do, sliding easily over, a kind of effortless oscillation, on their sides, most of them, floating together in their troop, perhaps twenty-five of them just off the pier, though you couldn’t count them, the sea-lions: they curve around one another, two break away, one joins, the group drifts with the tide.
In following the waterway across the hill, York gum saplings holding out against the erosive sidewash induced by downpours, you come across the leg of a sheep, flesh eaten away, bones held together by sinews that have dried and tightened—the leg is seized in the moment of “fall to your knees...” It points neither up nor down the hill, nor divinely the length of the waterway. A sheep death under the old regime, a time when sheep kept the grass down and died to rot where they fell. Dismembered by foxes; strewn about.
As all the survivors of the ark burst ashore in a happy pandemonium chattering, roaring, howling for prey lowing to be fruitful and multiply while above their heads the rainbow hinted that there would be no end again--the end came for the fish without cares who lived off the catastrophe like slippery swindlers: now on the face of the stiffening earth the writhing fins were stranded and with gaping mouths they drowned in the air. Translated from the Hebrew by Leon Wieseltier For more TNR, become a fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
All the rivers run into the sea and the sea is not full because all the rivers return to the rivers. Believe me. This is the secret of pride and the fall. This is the secret of the system of yearning.
Hatred’s homicidal. Hitler knows. He makes what most men mean by hate a tepid sentiment, though at the time, no one seemed inclined to notice, and I wondered, When will my Hungarians awaken? I waited for the Jews to rouse themselves. But only slowly were they moved to anger; even then most merely said, “depose the madman.” Moderation’s suicide. A whimper while the butcher spreads fresh paper. Even in translation in the Times, he aims his hate at me, my family trapped in Budapest. Our decades-old conversion meaningless.
The pigeons here purr. They don't coo--coo like an infant coos, or cries, before it learns its words, or its way in the world--a string of whys and whos: the inquisitive mind, so often confused--which is what I was, by the birds' odd sounds--sorrowful, echoing off the rocks behind my room. But actually, it makes sense, considering how close they roost to that woman's house--the great artist's muse, the weeping woman, her portraits rendered so vividly by the one who loved and abused her. The other morning, I came home and found a bird trapped in the house--a window left open.
Poor summer, it doesn't know it's dying. A few days are all it has. Still, the lake is with me, its strokes of blue-violet and the fiery sun replacing loneliness. I feel like an animal that has found a place. This is my burrow, my nest, my attempt to say, I exist. A rose can't shut itself and be a bud again. It's a malady, wanting it. On the shore, the moon sprinkles light over everything, like a campfire, and in the green-black night, the tall pines hold their arms out as God held His arms out to say that He was lonely and that He was making Himself a man.
The storm puts its mouth to the house and blows to get a tone. I toss and turn, my closed eyes reading the storm's text. The child's eyes grow wide in the dark and the storm howls for him. Both love the swinging lamps; both are halfway towards speech. The storm has the hands and wings of a child. Far away, travellers run for cover. The house feels its own constellation of nails holding the walls together. The night is calm in our rooms, where the echoes of all footsteps rest like sunken leaves in a pond, but the night outside is wild.
How on earth did it happen, I used to wonder that a whole city—arches, pillars, colonnades, not to mention vehicles and animals—had all one fine day gone under? I mean, I said to myself, the world was small then. Surely a great city must have been missed? I miss our old city— white pepper, white pudding, you and I meeting under fanlights and low skies to go home in it—Maybe what really happened is this: the old fable-makers searched hard for a word to convey that what is gone is gone forever and never found it.