Yehuda Amichai


The U.N. Command in Jerusalem

Translated by Margalit Benaya

The mediators, the peace-makers, the compromisers, the conciliators
Live in the white house,
And receive their nourishment from afar,
Through oblique channels, through dark veins, like an embryo.
And their secretaries are lipsticked and laughing,
And their diplomatically-immune chauffeurs wait below like stalled horses,
And the trees which shade them are rooted in no-man’s land,
And the delusions are children who go out into the field to pick cyclamen
And do not return.
And thoughts hover above, unquiet, like scout planes
And photograph and return and develop the pictures
In dim and sorrowful rooms
And I know that they have their heavy chandeliers,
And the boy that I was sits on them and swings
Out and back, until he does not come back.
And later the night will reach
Rusty and twisted conclusions from our old lives,
And above the houses the tune will gather the scattered words
As a hand gathers crumbs from the table
After the meal, when the conversation goes on
And the children have already gone to bed.
And hopes come to me like daring seafarers,
Like discoverers of continents to an island
Where they stay a day or two
And rest…
And later sail away.

Notes on this poem

Reproduced by permission of Hana Amichai.