Tal Nitzan ~ I remember Etty Hillesum & The third child

Tal Nitzan. Ills.: Joseph Sassoon Semah

I remember Etty Hillesum

Did she still whisper
“Why anticipate trouble” 
when transported from Westerbork
to Auschwitz in Wagon Number 12,
“They should be exterminated like fleas,
those petty fears of the future”
as her future rushed towards her
to exterminate her?
Maybe I should pause, retreat
or at least recite
“Why anticipate joy”
as I hurry past the yellow squares of life
that once were far and sealed
and tonight open towards me
to let me in and out as I wish
while a silly hope for happiness
sways like a jug, too large,
on my head

“An interrupted life”, the diaries of Etty Hillesum, 1941-1943
Translation: Tal Nitzan & Vivian Eden

The third child

I’m your unknown child.
I’m the negative
between your two blue-eyed children
who radiate against my darkness.
I’m your forgotten, your vanished, I’m your
kicked away.
I kneel – while they close their eyes

and reach out their hands for the gift –
as if begging for the blow
that will not come.
I feed on the cocoa trail they leave,
on the rustle of wrappings.
I shrink at night into the corner
of their beds, where tiny stuffed animals
encircle them
like shelter against evil,
lurking for the nocturnal ritual,
when you step on my toes unseeing,
and bend to smoothe their plump blankets.
When you close your eyes
(green like mine!)
I’ll creep under your eyelids and murmur:
If you try to banish the nightmare of my face
you’ll find out, shamefully,
you don’t even know my name.

Translation: Tal Nitzan & Vivian Eden

Tal Nitzan was born in Jaffa, Israel, and has lived in Argentinia, Colombia, and U.S.A. (NY). She currently lives in Tel Aviv.
She is an awardwinning poet, writer, translator of Hispanic literature and editor.
Tal Nitzan published numerous poetry books.