Menorah-less Chanukah Revisited

Notes: I wrote the Hebrew part of this poem two years ago. I was on a Hebrew-poetry kick then. Since I have very little knowledge of Hebrew poetics and am not really fluent in the language, I don’t know if this is a good poem or not. I used a lot of phrases that roll off my tongue easily because they’re part of various liturgies or commonly-used expressions.

In any case, the link came up in my Facebook memories, and I decided to translate and re-post it. The original title was “On a Menorah-less Chanukah.” It was a rumination about how I was trying to pretend the holiday had no meaning for me, that it was a new year and new existence for me, that the past had no hold on me – and  yet I could not escape the past and all its effects, the hold it most definitely still had on me. The same holds true now.

My Chanukah up to this point in 2017 has still been menorah-less – but I may decide to light some sort of something on Tuesday, the last night. We shall see…

Meanwhile, here’s this poem! (English translation / adaptation after the Hebrew version.)

On a Menorah-less Chanukah (December 2015)

בימים ההם בזמן הזה
העבר מתעורר
שנה חדשה מביאה
ימים חדשים וזמן
זמן מזומן

העבר אין והעתיד עדיין
מחדש בכל יום
עוד פעם ועוד פעם
יום חדש
מפריד מיום שעבר

אבל זמן מגיע
שולח יד מיום שעבר
ותופס ביום הזה
לוקח ימים החדשים
וקושר אותם
בימים ההם בזמן הזה

In days gone by in this season –
the past awakens.
A new year brings with her
fresh new days and seasons –
seasons prepared and ready,
a cycle of established times.

The past is gone and the future yet to come –
with each day the world renewed –
again and again,
a new day
wrenches away,
separates itself from days past.

But the season comes,
extending hands from days gone by
and grabs onto this day –
snatches the new days
and attaches them, ties them, binds them –
in days gone by in this season.

My father’s menorah on the first night of Chanukah 2014.


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