ABBA KOVNER

POETICS: A SPICE BOX

You never know where you will begin -

from a simple word, a sound, a closed portion -

You never know if the immediate cause

is in the smell of mown grass,

in the poisoned bee-eater

that fell among the geraniums

like source upon source

to the sound of a hidden bell -

You never know. What is called the soul

is like a sealed spice-box.

As long as it is closed the sense of smell is kept waiting

helpless. Opened

Happy the anosmics who do not know

the shudder of filled nostrils like

the smell of resin

that light flutter

of swallowing the first vowel

before it drops and mingles

with this unrest.

And the penetration

The perspiration.

The pleasure.

And the pain.

from Shirat Rosa (Sifriyat HaPoalim, 1987)

translated by Karen Alkalay-Gut.

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