Five poems from Lider

My Home

Light gray houses swim and sway
along with damp fences, pale silver streets,
and people in doorways
bend, smile, fade away,
emerge and disappear,
through this rainbow of tears.

A girl sits by her window.
In the moonlight her hair streams like dark rain.
She searches with eyes stubborn and bright,
as if through a forest,
for her own distant figure.
Oh, child, why do you shiver
at my approach?

Girls in Crotona Park

Girls have woven themselves
into the autumn evening
as into a faded image.
Their eyes are cold, their smiles thin and wild.
Their clothes are lavender, apple green and old rose.
Through their veins dew flows.
They exchange words that are bright and empty.
In dreams they were loved by Botticelli.

From a Letter

The dusty road
the drunken steps…
My one and only,
I don’t remember it.

The twilight like masses of flowers,
the twilight like the October-forest,
when he was coming.

The dusty road,
the harvested field,
the staggering steps…
Without limit, without end
joy was growing…
My shining one,
I don’t remember it.

The Sun

I know, that the sun is God’s golden mask.
Often I become calm and good,
when my blood races with madness and disgust–
God smiles at me from behind his mask.

It may happen, in a heavy, golden green garden,
the sung will hang, like a fruit on a tree.
Once, I tasted there
in a radiant hour,
its juice in my mouth.

And sometimes, at evening, on the sea,
it is a fiery swan.
Once, white and erect,
with a silver horn between my lips
I rode on its back.

Unhappy

…And these people stare at me crookedly,
one might as well burst into tears…
I am unhappy with my furnished room,
I am unhappy with everything.

Swayed today on a strap on the el,
in rhythm with worn-down Jews.
The night was dark, like a slave’s heart.
I am unhappy with these nights.

And the days are yellow and holy,
like verses in an old book of prayers,
perhaps I wouldn’t feel so terrible,
if I didn’t dream up poetry.

Bios

Anna Margolin

Anna Margolin, the pen name of Rosa Lebensboym, was born in 1887 in modern-day Belarus and died in 1952. She grew up under the tutelage of her father, a formerly Hasidic man who had turned away from religion and embraced a secular way of life. When she was 19, he sent her to New York City, and following stints in Warsaw, Palestine, and elsewhere, she decided to settle in New York permanently. Upon the publication of her first poems, critics declared that she must have been a man writing with a woman’s name and persona, saying, “These poems are written with an experienced hand, and a woman can’t write like that.”

Maia Evrona

Maia Evrona writes poetry and memoir, in addition to translating. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, New South, and other venues, while excerpts from her memoir on chronic illness have appeared in Harpur Palate, Blood and Thunder, and elsewhere. Her translations of the Yiddish poets Abraham Sutzkever and Anna Margolin have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry Magazine, The Massachusetts Review, The Kenyon Review, among other journals. She also dances the tango and loves to sing. Her website is maiaevrona.com.

English translation copyright (c) Maia Evrona, 2015.