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A Haunted Poet
to the memory of Abba Kovner
translated from the Hebrew by Tsipi Keler

Years he smoked, burned, inhaled
filthy butts that wrecked his lungs 
with tuberculosis: 
muscus, cough and pain. 
He didn't cry he didn't shout, 
he only groaned in private, 
and in whispers dictated notes 
to those bending over his bed. 
The sound of chimes and bells 
interrupted the silence of his last nights 
always alerting his heart's flight: 
He didn't save from the fires 
a loving mother chasing 
after him, clinging as he walks, 
as if he were a baby again, 
holding her ashes 
on his last day.

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