after Anthony Hecht’s The Book of Yolek
* יש לנו חוק, ובהתאם לחוק היא חייבת למות
* لدينا قانون وتبعا للقانون يجب ان تموت
It’s a god-fearing land you’ve travelled to
and the leaders have divided even the dirt
into lots. Your yellow fields look
swollen for the summer harvest
though they are deserted, except for one girl. She walks
between rows of wheat towards home.
On the way to her mudbrick home,
she passes the threshing floor, two
olive presses and a barren fig tree. She walks
on stray ears of wheat and treads them into dirt.
Those stalks will miss the harvest
and so will she. She looks
like her older brothers and they look
like wire, and hard work, and home.
She hasn’t seen them since the harvest
festival, when she sat down to
draw them in the dirt.
She traced their faces as they walked
away. She watched them walk
towards the wall – she thinks it looks
like a tombstone cropping out of the dirt –
and it blocks her path home.
It is March 2002
and the air has the scent of harvest.
You see the girl alone in the harvest
fields and a clanging sound halts her walk.
The olive presses crumble into
grains, shards of fig tree look
like scythes, and her home
is strewn, with the wheat, on the dirt.
Her yellow dress lies in the dirt.
There is no one to reap this harvest.
She is lost in the clamour, but that wall, and your home
still stand. And as you walk
through the wheat fields, you look
for her. For her brothers too.
Though Tamara was returned to dirt,
if you look out over the wheat harvest,
you can still see her walking home.
* We have a law, and according to the law she must die.