My steps mingling with yours (part 4)

The last few days have been inspired by the work of two Yiddish Women poets: Rajzel Zychlinsky and Malka Heifetz Tussman. Each day I tried not to cram the page with quite so much text, and most days I did not succeed. Then I surrendered to the fact that these pages are all about the text – the words, the phrases, the images, the Yiddish, the English. I am enjoying these texts so much, diving into them and getting lost in the sounds and syllables.


These next two pages are dedicated to the poem, ‘Mama’, by Rajzel Zychlinsky. Translated by Sheva Zucker.

You made fire.
Thin sticks of wood
You fanned into a sun.
You hear my hair rustling a thank-you.
Du host fayer gemakht.
Host fun dare shtiklekh holts
Tseblozn a zun.
Du herst vi mayne hor shoybern a dank,
A dank.

But outside the wind is still wailing.
Take the wind, mother, into your apron,
And rock him to sleep.
The wind will trust you,
And like a little lamb,
Will close his eyes.
Nor in droysn veynt nokh alts der vint.
Nem im, mame, in dayn shirts arayn,
Un vig im ayn.
Der vint, er vet dir gloybn,
Un vi a shepskl,
Tsumakhn di oygn.

From ‘A Candle of Song’ לידערליכט
– a blog by Sheva Zucker dedicated to Yiddish poems about mothers.

And so my poetry is still traveling

“And so my poetry is still travelling the endless road of the self to reach the You. It knows no other road. And it always was and it always will be.”

From a letter written by the poet to Marcia Falk, 1975. From the introduction of ‘With Teeth in the Earth: Selected Poems of Malka Heifetz Tussman’, translated by Marcia Falk.

I love this quote so much. It speaks to me of the communication happening across time and space with these poems. The next three poems are all from the above mentioned collection, ‘With Teeth in the Earth’.


An acquaintance approaches –
“Hello, hello!
What’s new in the world?”

“I don’t know,” I say,
“I haven’t been there yet.”

“What? Where haven’t you been?”

“In the world,” I say.

He stops,
then changes the subject –
“What have you got in the sack?”

I’m becoming lighter

I’m becoming lighter
and lighter all the time
and it gets harder and harder
for me to bear my lightness.

Shadows of Remembering / שאָטנס פֿון געדענקען

There is a remembering that is not back.
A remembering that lingers in will-be
leaves shadows in my longing.

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