April 30, 2019
The new members of knesset are being sworn in now - meeting for the first time - deciding what the coalition will be, what the ministers will be. terrifying.
Ezi's on the Israel Trail but i have stayed behind to help out Orit at a medical procedure. it seems that's what i'm good at, waiting outside the door while someone gets treated for something. Somehow I find it a privilege to help - even in some minor way.
But i tried to compensate for missing the hike by rewarding myself with a haircut. it was a mistake - i look like Sally Field playing Doris. I forgot that hairstyling for me is always a punishment, just like a dog.
i have been writing or revising a poem a day about the holocaust for this week. here's this one:
At the annual picnic of the New Immigrants Society
in the park shelters at Ontario Lake Beach,
while all the children went to swim
I hid my fear of water and assuaged my boredom
by trying to organize the numbers on the refugees' arms
into some kind of arithmetical order.
I knew enough to be discreet,
counting the history of their agonies,
without looking directly at the tattoos.
But their arms were bare, exposed,
as they sat telling funny stories
around the samovar
and they had nothing to hide
from one another.
Now I cannot remember
a single cipher
except the 1
that looked so much more fundamental
than what we learned in math class.
When I left my apartment today for the massive construction site that our street has become, I saw my elderly neighbor consulting with the workers about their plans for the recovering of the concrete. By time time I entered the local grocery he was there, and we picked out vegetables together. Once at the checkout we waited for one of the street workers to buy some yoghurt and my neighbor, trying apparently to show his intimacy with him, asked: "Tell me one thing, Khalid, what does a girl in your village have to do to avoid being killed by her family." The grocer and I immediately shouted him down, but Khalid had an answer. I can talk to you about my work, but not my life. The neighbor sensed he had crossed the line and tried to go on - "I only meant how should a young woman behave?" It's not a question that comes out of nowhere - there have been a number of Arab women who have been murdered by their families this year, and the news is full of discussions about what can be done. But it was so incredibly insulting to all of us in the store I am still shaking from the fact that I didn't say enough. That I tried to mollify both parties.
May 1, 2019
The evening of Holocaust Day. A heat wave and the fact that i didn't get home from the hospital until almost 10 last night have made it impossible for me to think of participating in any ceremony today. But poems - yes.
My best friend's mother didn't know how to cook.
She would stand in the kitchen wiping her hands on her skirt
As if warming up for the challenge
And then pull the chicken out of the fridge,
Shove it into the cold oven, and stare.
Back in Warsaw they had servants
And in the Camps there was no food to prepare.
There was one point yesterday when i was stuck in an incredible traffic jam because of some May 1 parade on the 30th of April - there was one point when i thought i was losing it. I turned to the truck on my left to complain because he seemed to be moving into my lane, and suddenly realized that it was a patriot missile - one of the many being set up because of the threat of rockets on tel aviv for the Eurovision celebrations. I had just been listen to the dialogue Mike Nichols and Elaine May in which he is a rocket scientist whose mother calls to complain about his lack of attention. "I hear you're losing them," she says about halfway through.
Hey - i wanted to say - here Elaine! Here they are!
May 2-3, 2019
we had a long discussion today about what to say when someone asks you how you are. "of course they don't really want to know," the straughtfaced shrink said. "it's really just a polite gesture." Yes, I thought, but we really have to return meaning to what we say by teaching people that what they say has significance. I didn't say it out loud - because i didn't think she'd get it - my mistake. Because if what i want to do is make words meaningful i should practice that, even if people think i'm crazy. Take, for example, the different ways i could answer, "how are you?" 1. Rivka Bassman usually answers - "Most of me is fine." 2. The traditional Jewish answer is "Don't ask," which is usually the beginning of a potentially long explanation. 3. "As fine as you are," seems to bring the truth back into the charade. 4. but my favorite answer is "how much time have you got?"