October 24, 2023

The Chronicles of the Future

By Shachar-Mario Mordechai

Translated by Liron Alon, with translation editing by Reut Ben-Yaakov. The original Hebrew follows the English translation.


Those sufferings are over / No crying anymore. In an old album / you look at the face of a Jewish child / fifteen minutes before it dies. / Your eyes are dry. You put the kettle on, / drink tea, eat an apple. / You will live.

“Life Sentence,” by Adam Zagajewski, trans. Renata Gorczynski1

Once again a promise of a new age. There
It awaits us, head down, its birth not a rumor.
They say: it’s a new world. But these are the chronicles of its future:

In some place at some point in time
documents and papers will be requested.
Be it a clerk at some government agency
or a security officer at an airport, but
at any time somewhere in the world
a steward at a border might demand papers.

Which means: somewhere in the world a passport will be forged.

And at some time an army will invade a city. Whether it is called
Prague or Baghdad or
New York. Any name is a possibility.

Much will happen under the cover of night.
Knocks on a door.
An arbitrary arrest.
A tearing of a father from his daughter’s embrace.
His disappearance.

Much will happen in broad daylight’s sun.
Looting
Rape
Slaughter.
In the stock market and the town’s market, trade will continue with aplomb. So will
the pogrom.

Soon enough the masses will join:
Scrawling malicious graffiti against some minority or another
on some grounds or another. It will be made
prohibited to enter a continent or a state
or a grocery story.
In its doorway, a little dog will wait for its owner.
Someone will leave behind books and photographs, 
an old blanket, a grand armchair of happiness.
And a lover.
But will not forget to take a coat.
With pockets. As long as he leaves on time
with his face. And with more than a dime.

Many will flee on foot.
Some will escape by train.

There is no fugitive without a pursuer.
There is no shelter without a storm in sight.
The world is the butt of a rifle
The night – police cars’ strobe light.

At least one person – perhaps even you? – will wander
through streets praying for it to end. There he is, look,
leaning against the rail of night;
boats passing through the bay
and cars on the bridge
capture him
as quick as a wink though.
He jumps.
Or stays. But manages to fall
like scenery seen through a window.

Perhaps your window? 


תולדות העתיד

שחר-מריו מרדכי

כְּבָר פָּסְקוּ הַיִסּוּרִים הָהֵם נָדַם הַבְּכִי. בְּאַלְבּוֹם יָשָׁן / אַתָּה רוֹאֶה פָּנִים שֶׁל יֶלֶד יְהוּדִיע רֶבַע שָׁעָה לִפְנֵי הַמָּוֶת. / עֵינֶיךָ יְבֵשׁוֹת. אַתָּה שׁוֹפֵת מַיִם / לְתֵה, אוֹכֵל תַּפּוּחַ. אַתָּה תִּחְיֶה
.אדם זגייבסקי, “לכל ימי החיים”, מפולנית: דוד וינפלד

שׁוּב מֻבְטָח עִדָּן חָדָשׁ. הִנֵּה
הוּא כְּבָר מֻנָּח בִּתְנוּחָה עֻבָּרִית. קָרוֹב לְהִוָּלְדוֹ
:אוֹמְרִים: זֶה עוֹלָם חָדָשׁ. אֲבָל אֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדוֹת עֲתִידוֹ

בְּמָקוֹם כָּלְשֶׁהוּ בִּנְקֻדַּת זְמַן כָּלְשֶׁהִי
.יִדָּרְשׁוּ תְּעוּדוֹת וּמִסְמָכִים
יְהֵא זֶה פְּקִיד קַבָּלָה בְּמִשְׂרָד מֶמְשַׁלְתִּי
אוֹ קְצִין בִּדּוּק בִּשְׂדֵה תְּעוּפָה, אֲבָל
בְּכָל תְּקוּפָה אֵיפֹשֶהוּ בָּעוֹלָם עָלוּל
.זַ’נְדַרְם בְּמַעֲבַר גְּבוּל לִדְרֹש תְּעוּדוֹת

.כְּלוֹמַר: אֵיפֹשֶהוּ בָּעוֹלָם יְזֻיַּף דַּרְכּוֹן

וּמָתַיְשֶׁהוּ יִפְלֹש צָבָא אֶל עִיר. יְהֵא שְׁמָהּ
פְּרַאג אוֹ בַּגְדַד אוֹ
.נְיוּ יוֹרְק. כָּל שֵׁם אֶפְשָׁרִי

.דְּבָרִים רַבִּים יִתְרַחֲשׁוּ בְּחָסוּת הַלַּיְלָה
.דְּפִיקוֹת בַּדֶּלֶת
.מַאֲסָר שְׁרִירוּתִי
.קְרִיעַת אָב מִזְּרוֹעוֹת יַלְדָּתוֹ
.הֵעָלְמוּתוֹ

.דְּבָרִים רַבִּים יִתְרַחֲשׁוּ לְאוֹר יוֹם
בִּזָּה
אֹנֶס
.טֶבַח
בַּשּׁוּק הָעִירוֹנִי וּבַבּוּרְסָה יִתְקַיֵּם הַמִּסְחָר כְּסִדְרוֹ. גַּם
.הַפּוֹגְרוֹם

:עַד מְהֵרָה יִצְטָרֵף הֶהָמוֹן
רִסּוּס כְּתוֹבוֹת נְאָצָה נֶגֶד מִעוּט כָּזֶה אוֹ אַחֵר
עַל רֶקַע כָּזֶה אוֹ אַחֵר. יִתָּבַע
אִסּוּר כְּנִיסָה לְיַבֶּשֶׁת אוֹ לִמְדִינָה
.אוֹ לַחֲנוּת מַכֹּלֶת
.בְּפִתְחָהּ יְחַכֶּה כְּלַבְלַב לִבְעָלָיו
,מִישֶׁהוּ יַשְׁאִיר מֵאָחוֹר סְפָרִים וְתַצְלוּמִים
.שְׂמִיכָה יְשָׁנָה, כֻּרְסָה מְפֹאֶרֶת שֶׁל אֹשֶר
.וְאָהוּב
.אֲבָל לֹא יִשְׁכַּח לָקַחַת מְעִיל
עִם כִּיסִים. כָּל עוֹד יַעֲזֹב בַּזְּמַן
.עִם פָּנָיו. וְעִם מְזֻמָּן

.רַבִּים יָנוּסוּ בָּרֶגֶל
.יֵשׁ מִי שֶׁיִּמָּלֵט בְּרַכֶּבֶת

.אֵין נִמְלָט בְּלֹא רוֹדֵף
.אֵין מִקְלָט בְּלִי סְעָרָה
.הָעוֹלָם הוּא קַת שֶׁל רוֹבֶה
.הַלַּיְלָה – הִבְהוּב נַיְדוֹת מִשְׁטָרָה

לְפָחוֹת אָדָם אֶחָד – אוּלַי אֲפִלּוּ אַתָּה? – יִתְעֶה
,בַּדְּרָכִים מִתְפַּלֵּל שֶׁיִּגָּמֵר. הִנֵּה הוּא, רְאוּ
;נִשְׁעָן עַל מַעֲקֵה הַחֹשֶךְ
סִירוֹת שֶׁחוֹלְפוֹת בְּמוֹרַד הַנָּהָר
וּמְכוֹנִיּוֹת עַל הַגֶּשֶׁר
תּוֹפְסוֹת אוֹתוֹ
.לְשַׁבְרִיר שְׁנִיָּה
.הוּא קוֹפֵץ
אוֹ נִשְׁאָר. אֲבָל מַצְלִיחַ לְהִשָּׁמֵט
.כְּמוֹ נוֹף מִבַּעַד לַחַלּוֹן

?אוּלַי הַחַלּוֹן שֶׁלְּךָ


Footnotes

  1. From Tremor: Selected Poems (1985).

Shachar-Mario Mordechai was born in 1975 in Haifa, Israel, and grew up in Kiryat Bialik. He’s published five books of poetry in Hebrew, most recently A Father and Son [Avor et ha-Laila b-Lo’ah ha-Aish] (2022, Am Oved). Shachar-Mario Mordechai received the Goldberg Award in Israel in 2021 and the Bustan scholarship of the Israeli National Library in 2020. He was poet-in-residence at Johns Hopkins University in 2018–19. His poems have been translated into multiple languages, including Arabic, English, Spanish, and Turkish. He lives in Jerusalem. 

Liron Alon is an editor and translator. She is currently the translation editor for Tangier Publishing House’s translated poetry series, Zarra.

Reut Ben-Yaakov is a postdoctoral associate in the department of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies at Duke University. She is a translator of fiction and poetry, and the editor of Tangier Publishing House’s translated poetry series.