Balfour Hakak – Three Poems

A scroll of Lineage — New Version


My grandfather

received from his father a parchment 

a scroll of lineage

and his father received from his  

and his father received from his 

father from father

back to the elders of the 

great Assembly


But when my father departed in his immaculate gown

when he ascended to his great ancestral land

the scroll blew into sighs

the scroll blew in the wind

names aflame

letters afly


Ever since

lost still in the tempestuous storm

I seek after my trampled scroll

in the light of day 

in the twilight of sorcery


Indeed, I must create

starting now

a scroll of lineage

— a new scroll

One that begins with



Light from the Sea of Death


At the Dead Sea I lay on the seaside bed

taking refuge in the forgetting of memories

I said: let me forget for a moment

all that had transpired

let me consign to oblivion all my toil and legacy.


Then from the sea came towards me a man

who sleeps on the sea of mirrors.

who floats on the water adrift in glow.

his flesh flashing from salt, of water-glow

his blood flashing sevenfold.


Holding in his hand an almond staff

he carves into its bark

mark upon mark.

White and sacred letters he diligently

carves, white symbols in the staff of 



And the man is precious to me and beloved

And the man who rose from the sea 

is my grandfather.


The sea is like a pure blue length of cloth

a prayer shawl.  A cloth of trembling ripples.

He passes to me the staff from the Sea of Death

his white face storming in fog

his face dripping light from the Sea of Death

light bestowed upon my living hand.


Would that the staff become a torch

of light in my life

that I be fruitful in the land

that I confer it upon my sons. 


Her Ebbing Storm


I watched her ebbing storm

surrounded by every adjuration of the Covenant

oaths and vows carved into her living flesh

peeling from my flesh, 

detaching, departing

eyes veiled in tremor, 

awesome majesty

Her freedom is no more.


Her burning frock she left me,

all my sheets of poems 

are hers 

— a keepsake.


Her attire is of qualm

disappearing into the distance

she is quiet now, silent.

Who might comprehend 

the depth of her torment.


Translated by Schulamith Chava Halevy