Log Cabin Chronicles

On the Way to Nabbatiya

ELISHA PORAT

The path to Nabbatiya is truly unpleasant,
even for veteran soldiers such as myself
who, as you know, "are not killed,
but simply vaporize . . ."

I try to bring a quick smile to the lips
of my escort rangers crew, "What do
we really have to lose?" I ask them,

"we'll go back home, and what good things
are waiting there for us -- boring work,
heart attacks, accidents? But here,
you'll be gone in a minute, all at once,
and you won't even know where the bullet
comes from, the one that rids you of all
your troubles . . .

then you'll be granted a charity,
because you'll finish your life
in 'dignity,' as a brave soldier;
soon you'll be posted in the newspapers,
even the weakest of you who never would
have been absolved -- not for a single word --
in your entire life.

And the principal charity?
You'll remain young forever,
for generations upon generations,
for eternity, and no one can take
this from you."

Then suddenly, unheedingly,
the joke transforms into an unexpected
seriousness . . . the curvature
of the narrow path becomes sharp;
dark, little bridges appear from nowhere,
as the rocks aside the road draw near
with a frightening closeness,
and the dark, green wood
appears suspicious.

Translated from the Hebrew by Elisha Porat and Ward Kelley

Elisha Porat can be contacted at porat_el@einhahoresh.org.il.

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Copyright © 2001 Elisha Porat