“Ballad in the Streets of Buenos Aires” (poem) (Amichai).

Ballad in the Streets of Buenos Aires

 

And a man waits in the streets and meets a woman

precise and beautiful as the clock inside her room

and sad and white as the wall that holds it

 

And she does not show him her teeth

and she does not show him her belly

but she shows him her time, precise and beautiful

 

And she lives on the ground floor next to the pipes

and the water which goes up starts at her wall

and he has decided on softness

 

And she knows the reasons for weeping

and she knows the reasons for the holding back

and he begins, and he begins to be like her

 

And his hair grows long and soft like hers

and the hard words of his tongue melt in her mouth

and his eyes in tears will look like hers

 

And the traffic lights light up her face

and she is standing there in the permitted and the forbidden

and he has decided on softness

 

And they walk in the streets which will be in his dreams

and the rain weeps into them as into a pillow,

and restless time has made them into prophets

 

And he will lose her in the red light

and he will lose her in the green and in the yellow

and the light is always there to serve all loss

 

And he won’t be there when soap and lotion run out

and he won’t be there when the clock is set again

and he won’t be there when her dress is raveled out in threads

 

And she will shut his wild letters in a quiet drawer

and lie down to sleep beside the water in the wall

and she will know the reasons for weeping and for holding back

and he has decided on softness

 

-Yehuda Amichai (translated by Harold Schimmel)

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