Amir Or



Language says: before language stands a language. Language is traces stained by over there. Language says: listen now. You listen: here was echo. Take silence and try to be silent. Take the words and try to speak: beyond language, language is a wound from which the world flows and flows. Language says: is, is not, is, is not. Language says: I. Language says: come on, let’s speak you, let’s handle you; come on, say you’ve said – Translated from Hebrew by Fiona Sampson and the author The Barbarians (Round Two) It was not in vain that we awaited the barbarians, it was not in vain that we gathered in the city square. It was not in vain that our great ones donned their official robes and rehearsed their speeches for the event. It was not in vain that we smashed our temples and erected new ones to their gods; as proper we burnt our books that have nothing in them for people like that. As the prophesy foretold, the barbarians came and took the keys to the city from the king’s hand. But when they came they donned the garments of the land, and their customs were the customs of the state; and when they commanded us in our own tongue we no longer knew when the barbarians had come to us. Translated by Vivian Eden


The perfect murder has no reasons, he said, the perfect murder needs only a perfect object, as it was in Auschwitz. Not the crematoria, of course, but as it was afterwards, outside working hours. And he fell silent looking at the froth on the beer and taking a sip. The perfect murder is love, he said. The perfect murder doesn’t require anything perfect except giving as much as you can. Even the memory of gripping the throat is eternal. Even the howls that rocked my hand, even the piss that fell like grace on cold flesh, even the heel of the boot awakens another eternity, even the silence, he said, looking at the froth. True, a decent arbeit macht frei, but a perfect murder doesn’t spill a drop, like the lips of a child, he explained, like sand and froth, like you, listening, sipping and listening Translated from Hebrew by Theo Dorgan, Tony Curtis, McDara Woods


Some say life is continuing in the face of the alternative; some say - conquest; some stretch an equals sign between life and its absence; and some say that life was given us to serve those whose lives are not a life. I say: you. And this is easily explained: once again night envelops what can be seen. At home lamps are lit. And in the light there’s no glance except the one from the mirror, nothing except what sees me seeing it; and it brings not release but longing, not death but life. And I take from this gaze the warm and the cold – night envelopes everything and I long for the one who sees me through touching, and I don’t remember a thing. Only this. Translated from Hebrew by Helena Berg


How to say this? You’re too close to bear, you are fruit bursting in the heart, you are the name the dumb mouth bears like sea in the earth’s palm. I touch, and envy my touching hand; touching, I yearn to touch. Terror of this motionless moment: you are here inside here inside here. Here the soul-fire burns, burns. The heart unconsumed. Translated from Hebrew by Fiona Sampson and the author


And if I would have portrayed for you this soft bluish light the tremulous reflection of the poplar in the water when a convoy of ducks is crossing the pond and beyond the circular shore line the bushes and the bay and the green mountain melting into the cloud-sky in the rain – wouldn't you search my eyes with a prying searchlight shoot a duck or two down between the lines and pray for the monster to emerge from the sea and gape open upon your flesh a sky-high mouth to redeem you from this divine dullness? But there's no need. Here, I'm sketching it for you – the beams and the nails the convulsions the pain wave after wave in his butterfly's wings – your glowing faces the landscape and finally his wonderful cry the pleasure-strike hitting into your flesh the quivering thrill – Just one more minute. Patience. I'm almost finished.


for the sin of being spoiled with words and mistaking the call of Love; for turning away from myself like shadow from body, face from heart; for the sin of ‘What will they say?’; for self denial; for pride; for the sin of having followed the spell of praise under the stage lights; for my ear that has abandoned listening, for the utterance of the mouth which I have spoken, yet my soul has not; for sin I’ve committed against my own body with the rod and no kindness, beating my breast; for calling Yours my own; for having sinned before You by anxiety and vain fear, for having fed the fire of doubt from the log of the tree of plenty; for having been dilatory in growing; for having shut my door and having neither heard nor seen nor let happiness enter me when beholding Your being. Translated from Hebrew by Fiona Sampson and the author