Image depicts the poem in Hebrew.

We Saw a Movie Then Drove Off


We saw a movie then drove off to a quiet place.
From time to time there was an uproar of imagined raids.
But I was in you as in a sheltering cove.
A night of the orphaned sea's rough-to-heavy waves.
I saw my forefathers as they could have been
And chose to die.
Flashes of light came to shine and crave.
Cars were coming and coming toward the camels who were once this land.
We spread out a lot of thigh. Words in the dark learned to fly.
And they fell close by.
We had heaps upon heaps in armpits and on chests.
A man and woman alone
Open the window, seeing the age-old promise.

We saw a movie then drove off to a quiet place.
It was night. And we had no blame.
But we weren't absolved just the same.


Poet Ortsion Bartana was born in Tel Aviv in 1949. He’s taught Hebrew literature at various universities in Israel and been the chairman of the Hebrew Writers’ Association and president of the P.E.N. club, Israel. He has published eleven collections of poetry, five collections of short stories, two novels, four books of criticism, and five books of literary research. His work has been translated into several languages and has won many literary awards, including the Prime Minister’s Award, Bernstein Award, and Brenner Award.

Co-translators Hana Inbar and Robert Manaster have published two books of translations: Ronny Someck's The Milk Underground (White Pine Press, 2015), which was awarded the Cliff Becker Book Prize in Translation, and Yossel Birstein's And So Is the Bus: Jerusalem Stories (Dryad Press, 2016), which received favorable reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Washington Independent Review of Books, among other publications.