Three poems | Karen Alkalay-Gut

On Rosh HaShannah, the “head of the year,” or Jewish New Year, Meta/ Phor(e) /Play brings you the poetry of Israeli poet Karen Alkalay-Gut.

Happy New Year!

!לשנה טובה

Pomegranate New Year Digital photography ©2017 Michael Dickel

Pomegranate New Year
Digital photography
©2017 Michael Dickel

What I need

Karen Alkalay-Gut

I want my shoes to be forgiving
To whisper to me as I pace,
“No matter how you swell
How you feel they ache
No matter what things sprout
From your surfaces,
I will accommodate,
I will accept, I will absolve,
Not just your feet
But all you have endured.

Her shoes Digital artwork ©2013 Michael Dickel

Her shoes
Digital artwork
©2013 Michael Dickel

I am a connoisseur of insomnia

Karen Alkalay-Gut

I am a connoisseur of insomnia
The slow realization that envelopes
After an hour of lying in bed
That this night will be sleepless

Or the sudden stark awakening
Alone in total darkness
As if I dare sleep no longer
That I must be on guard.

And long before life stirs
Before the light, I have been aroused
By the terror of the tasks before me,
Or the emptiness that is to come.

Insomnia Digital art ©2013 Michael Dickel

Digital art
©2013 Michael Dickel

Avishag Speaks

Karen Alkalay-Gut

He sought me at night—
the son who saw all.
He sought me at night
that ravenous king.
And I hid from him
in the clefts of the rock,
in the secrets of stairs.
I hid away the fire
I shared with his father
I hid my aroma
among the roses
I couldn’t be found
and that was what he desired
above all the others
that I could play at devotion
while running away.

I hid my fire Digital landscape from photos ©2013 Michael Dickel

Triptych—I hid away the fire
Digital landscapes from photos
©2013 Michael Dickel

Karen Alkalay-Gut

After 25 books of poetry, a biography, and thousands of poems and articles, Karen Alkalay-Gut reports that she’s “just beginning to think about becoming serious about writing.” Her latest book of poetry is called Hanging Around the House, which includes poems to construct an installation in the reader’s home. Before that there was a book about the Galápagos Islands called The Encantadas: Emotion and Evolution (2014), with the photography of Ezra Gut, which shows the interaction between an individual and a strange yet familiar environment.

Other books concentrate on life in Israel, on clothes, on care-giving, and on the prevalence of poetry in daily life. Despite the variety of subjects, it is clear, as she puts it, that her “concentration is on communication, sometimes with humor, sometimes as a means to transmit even the most painful and pleasurable of experiences.”


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