Poem: I, May I Rest in Peace


I, may I rest in peace — I, who am still living, say,
May I have peace in the rest of my life.
I want peace right now while I’m still alive.
I don’t want to wait like that pious man who wished for one leg
of the golden chair of Paradise, I want a four-legged chair
right here, a plain wooden chair. I want the rest of my peace now.
I have lived out my life in wars of every kind: battles without
and within, close combat, face-to-face, the faces always
my own, my lover-face, my enemy-face.
Wars with the old weapons — sticks and stones, blunt axe, words,
dull ripping knife, love and hate,
and wars with newfangled weapons — machine gun, missile,
words, land mines exploding, love and hate,
I don’t want to fulfill my parents’ prophecy that life is war.
I want peace with all my body and all my soul.
Rest me in peace.


From “In My Life, on My Life” in “Open Closed Open,” translated by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld (Harcourt, 2000). 

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