Bracha Kopstein


My Mother’s Silver Candlesticks

Oh how they linger in my eyes

since I was a child –

with their full bellies

and thin silver stems

luminous, radiant...

with their silence and speaking,

with their quiet breath

that would all week long

bring joy into the home

from the holidays that would come

and never leave...

Oh how I long for them quietly.

How I carry them within me.

When I think of them

there is such pain, such pain...

Where have they gone?

Whose table do they adorn?

Or do they lie somewhere deep

in dust in filth in hovels

Among hills of Yiddish treasures,

forgotten, impure –

for the living

and dead hosts?

Their breathing

has been constrained for generations

whether they quietly stand

on the shelf without light

or on the Sabbath-holiday table

illuminated with candles

Oh how they linger in my eyes

Always always

with my mother’s pale face

and thin hands over her eyes – spread out

while she blessed...

How they flutter

in my life.

How they are still

how they speak

with ghostly

and living joy...

How they linger in my eyes

How they linger in my eyes

translated from the Yiddish by Karen Alkalay-Gut