Mati Shemoelof – Four Poems

A home is an invention for kids


I don’t tell you that, a home is an invention for kids

the more we tried to know it, the more it mocked us with its estrangement

and still, we try to return to it

clinging to our memories, imaginations and books,

holding on to the words they taught us in kindergarten, in schools and colleges,

sounds with no meaning, like abandoned logs by a fire

I pass them on to you hoping that perhaps one day

you will succeed in building a home.




On the cutting board of life

we are sliced daily,

every fight with another scar,

every diced fruit and vegetable failing to quench hunger,

the shadow falling in the cracks that

did not wash in the sink, did not dry in the air, did not write poems —

lacerations in your image.




All those years I wrote about the immigration of my parents

all those years I was migrating towards where they immigrated from

fell away suddenly, when I realized that I was writing about the impending future

and here I stand with a suitcase in one hand and my books in the other, like in a painting by Meir Pichhadze


I wasn’t successful there


Mother I returned to Germany without any accomplishments in hand

I wasn’t translated, I wasn’t invited to speak

I didn’t bond with any locals

I haven’t really found a reason to stay in this cold

I haven’t truly found a reason to return to you

and you haven’t found any reason to visit me.