The one great emotion most neglected by poets is the profound love of the long-married couple written from the perspective of middle age. Most poets who reach that age (one wonders what Byron might have sounded like at 60), the male ones in particular, seem to be hung up over their lost libido. From C.K. Williams to Hanoch Levin, they devote poem after poem to old loves or desperate attempts to regain the sexual passion of youth.
So it’s a great pleasure to find a poet with the voice and skill (for every marriage is unique, and intimate, and no true lover would violate its confidence) to depict a love that young men know not.
Giora Fisher, five years my senior, is a high school teacher and farmer who began writing poetry just a few years ago. His first book, Aharei Zeh (In the Aftermath is the English title), has just been published by Am Oved and, he tells me, the 1,000-copy print run has already sold out. I offer my translation with the poet’s permission.
MY WIFE WATCHES ME
My wife watches me
I feel her eyes scanning
My balding head
Examining the brown blemishes
The date of expiration
Stamped by time.
But my heart wakes, waylaying my wife
Waiting at the edge of sleep
For the verdict of her eyes.
And only after it hears a sigh
A sigh of no pain
And without regret
Just a quiver of wistful desire
My heart, too, subsides
translated by Haim Watzman
אשתי מביטה בי
אִשְׁתִּי מַבִּיטָה בִּי
אֲנִי חָשׁ בְּעֵינֵיהָ הַסּוֹרְקוֹת
אֶת רֹאשִׁי הַקֵּרֵחַ,
בּוֹחֲנוֹת אֶת הַכְּתָמִים הַחוּמִים
שֶׁהֶחְתִּים וְהִטְבִּיעַ הַזְּמַן.
לִבִּי עֵר, אוֹרֵב לְאִשְׁתִּי
בִּקְצֵה הַשֵּׁנָה מַמְתִּין
לִפְסַק הַדִּין שֶׁל עֵינֵיהָּ.
וְרַק לְאַחַר שֶׁשָּׁמַע אֲנָחָה
שֶׁאֵין בָּהּ כְּאֵב
רָק שֶׁבֶר רוֹעֵד שֶׁל עֶרְגָּה
נִרְדָּם גַּם לִבִּי