Ruthie Vital Gilad – Three Poems

Body Count


They’re aligning the chairs

At the Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Square

Adjusting the loudspeakers

To echo

‘God Full of Mercy’.


It’s the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

God is full

And the chairs are empty.

Millions of chairs are empty.


Can anyone align that?


Simple Math


The night moulds us into different, fluctuating,

Never to be proven angles.

Addition, subtraction and miraculous multiplication.

In the morning we stand up, vertical, upright

And converge at last night’s exercises.

Only then do we start calculating


And getting it wrong.


Compulsory Education


Aristotle said

That educating one’s mind over one’s heart,

Is no education at all.

I spent my entire childhood sitting in classrooms,

Surrounded by adults toiling to educate me,


That my heart was in fact yearning to learn.


Only Aristotle was given permission to speak.

I stared right through the teachers,

Gave my heart a summer vacation

And insisted it shouldn’t graduate.


I was a student

But mostly I was a teacher

My entire childhood,

Spent in classrooms.


Translated by Natalie Feinstein