“these words are like glass splinters”

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Years ago, I read this poem to my brother. He contemplated the ending in silence for a long time, as though he was poised to say something profound. Finally he exclaimed, with some exasperation, “MIST!”

Letter
-Yehuda Amichai
To sit on the veranda of a hotel in Jerusalem
and to write: sweetly pass the days
from desert to sea. And to write: Tears, here,
dry quickly. This little blot
is a tear that has melted ink. That’s how
they wrote a hundred years ago. “I have
drawn a circle round it.”

Time passes – like somebody who, on a telephone,
is laughing or weeping far away from me:
Whatever I’m hearing I can’t see.
And whatever I see I don’t hear.

We were not careful when we said “next year”
or “a month ago”. These words are like
glass splinters, which you can hurt yourself with,
Or cut veins. Those who do things like that.

But you were beautiful, like the interpretation
of ancient books.
Surplus of women in your far country
brought you to me, but
other statistics have taken you
away from me.

To live is to build a ship and a harbor
at the same time. And to complete the harbor
long after the ship was drowned.

And to finish: I remember only
that there was mist. And whoever
remembers only mist –
what does he remember?

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