Sabbath lie

YEHUDA AMICHAI

TRANSLATED GLENDA ABRAMSON AND TUDOR PARFITT

On Friday, at twilight of a summer day

While the smells of food and prayer rose from every house

And the sound of the Sabbath angels’ wings was in the air,

While still a child I started to lie to my father:

“I went to another synagogue.”

 

I don’t know if he believed me or not

But the taste of the lie was good and sweet on my tongue

And in all the houses that night

Hymns rose up along with lies

To celebrate the Sabbath.

And in all the houses that night

Sabbath angels died like flies in a lamp,

And lovers put mouth to mouth,

Blew each other up until they floated upward,

Or burst.

 

And since then the lie has been good and sweet on my tongue

And since then I always go to another synagogue.

And my father returned the lie when he died:

“I’ve gone to another life.”


 

Source: Great Tranquility: Questions and Answers (Harper & Row, 1997)