The Art of the Question  


Old, blue pages,
Purple traces on silver hair,
Words on parchment, created
Through thousands of years in despair.
As if protecting a baby
I run, bearing Jewish words,
I grope in every courtyard:
The spirit won’t be murdered by the hordes.
I reach my arm into the bonfire and am happy:
I got it, bravo! Mine are Amsterdam,
Worms, Livorno, Madrid, and YIVO.
How tormented am I by a page
Carried off by the smoke and winds!
Hidden poems come and choke me:
– Hide us in your labyrinth!

—from Abraham Sutzkever, “Grains of Wheat”

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