No nation in the world honors its poets as does the State of Israel, and Yehuda Amichai is among Israel’s greatest poets.
An Arab Shepherd Is Searching For His Goat On Mount Zion
An Arab shepherd is searching for his goat on Mount Zion / and on the opposite hill I am searching for my little boy. / An Arab shepherd and a Jewish father / both in their temporary failure. / Our two voices met above / the Sultan’s Pool in the valley between us. / Neither of us wants the boy or the goat / to get caught in the wheels / of the “Chad Gadya” machine. / Afterward we found them among the bushes, / and our voices came back inside us / laughing and crying. / Searching for a goat or for a child has always been / the beginning of a new religion in these mountains.
On a roof in the Old City / laundry hanging in the late afternoon sunlight: / the white sheet of a woman who is my enemy, / the towel of a man who is my enemy, / to wipe off the sweat of his brow.
In the sky of the Old City / a kite. / At the other end of the string, / a child / I can’t see / because of the wall.
We have put up many flags, / they have put up many flags. / to make us think that they’re happy. / to make them think that we’re happy.
Not the peace of a cease-fire, / not even the vision of the wolf and the lamb, / but rather / as in the heart when the excitement is over / and you can talk only about a great weariness. / I know that I know how to kill, / that makes me an adult. / And my son plays with a toy gun that knows / how to open and close its eyes and say Mama. / A peace / without the big noise of beating swords into ploughshares, / without words, without / the thud of the heavy rubber stamp: let it be / light, floating, like lazy white foam. / A little rest for the wounds – / Who speaks of healing? / (And the howl of the orphans is passed from one generation / to the next, as in a relay race: / the baton never falls.)
Let it come / like wildflowers, / suddenly, because the field / must have it: wildpeace.