Log Cabin Chronicles

A Cracked Statuette


In the summer of seventy-nine,
Sheltered in the shade, on a step in Market Street,
in the shop of a Christian Arab,
While my hand was stroking the halo of hair
Of a graven statuette -
A startled voice suddenly broke out,
A young announcer begging, pleading: hurry, whoever is able,
Whoever is near, run to the tower
Of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher -
Through the lattice you may know her:
Wrapped all in black but her hair is fair,
And her car still pulses below her.
And when I arrived - I was late -
With those who were called to her aid,
The helpers, the radio was screaming,
And all the city was frozen, holding its breath -

Already she lay there, stretched out in the square:
Innocent, beautiful, and wrapped all about in the shining
Radiance of a cracked statuette.

Translated from the Hebrew by Asher Harris, 1999.

[POET'S NOTE: Elisha Porat, a 1996 winner of Israel's Prime Minister's Prize for Literature, has published more than a dozen volumes of fiction and poetry in Hebrew since 1973. His works have appeared in translation in Israel, the United States, Canada and England.

Mr. Porat was born in 1938 to a pioneer family in Petah Tikva, Israel. In the early 1930s his parents were among the founders of Kibbutz Ein Hahoresh, where he was raised and still makes his home.

Drafted into Israeli Army in 1956, heserved in a frontline reconnaissance unit and fought the Six Day war in 1967, and the Yom Kippur War in 1973. As a lifelong member of his kibbutz, hehas worked as a farmer as well as a writer. He currently performs editorial duties for several literary journals. You can contact him at porat_el@einhahoresh.org.il.

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