Featured Poem

On the Rim of Abu-Tor

On the rim of Abu-Tor an Arab boy is walking
across his roof. A schoolbook in his hand,
he goes sure-footed right up to the edge.
All around is quiet, houses anchored to the slope
like the ships of some giant.
A brown cow lazing on the path
could be a rusted scrap from a stolen car.
In front of the house a drainage stream gapes wide
moistens its throat as if waiting for its prey.
Why do his confident steps cast such terror upon me?
Something intimately foreign creeping
through me like the vine that weaves
entwined between our courtyards.
He walks, and I dare not take my eyes off him,
as if my gazing were bidden to protect his soul.
I tend to the flowers in my plot, I water them
but my heart is on watch for his every step
dangling like my life before my eyes.

(Abu-Tor is a mixed Jewish-Arab neighbourhood
on the south-eastern edge of Jerusalem)

This poem was translated with the author.

» Comment on this translation 3 comment(s)

About the translation:
» Read translator's notes
Dvora Amir
Jennie Feldman
Original language:
Series 3 No.9 - Palestine

Original poem

About the authors


Dvora Amir

Dvora Amir was born in Jerusalem during the 1948 War of Independence. Her parents were from Poland. After the Six-Day War of...

» Read more


Jennie Feldman

Jennie Feldman studied French at Oxford University. Her first collection of poems, The Lost Notebook (2005), was shortlisted f...

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בשולי אבו- תור (On the Rim of Abu-Tor)

בשולי אבו תור נער ערבי מהלך על גג ביתו.
ספר לימוד בידיו והוא נע בבטחה עד סיפו.
שקט סביב. כאוניות ענק עוגנים
בתי השכונה במורד ההר.
בשביל רובצת פרה חומה,
כגרוטאה חלודה של רכב גנוב.
בפתח הבית נחל ביוב פוער לוע,
מלחלח בגרונו כמו מחכה לטרף.
מדוע צעדיו הבוטחים מהלכים עלי אימה?
הזרות האינטימית הזאת מחלחלת בי
כאותה גפן סרוגה ארוגה בין חצרותינו.
איני מעזה להסיר את עיני מהילוכו,
כמו הופקד מבטי לשמור נפשו.
אני מטפחת חלקת פרחים, אני משקה
אך לבי דרוך לשמור צעדיו והם
כחיי התלויים לי מנגד.


hubert moore

19th Jul 2011

A fabulous poem. Thank-you, poet and translator, for making us rich with this wonderful thing.

Ana Hudson

4th Aug 2011

I felt like translating it and shared it on the 'Poems from the Portuguese' Facebook page.

Na orla de Abu-Tor

Na orla de Abu-Tor um rapazito árabe caminha
sobre um telhado. Livro na mão,
vai andando seguro até à borda.
À volta reina a calma, as casas ancoradas na encosta
como barcos de um gigante.
Uma vaca castanha preguiçando no carreiro
podia ser um bocado de ferro-velho ferrugento de um carro roubado.
Frente à casa uma corrente de águas de esgoto escancara-se
humedece a garganta como quem espera uma presa.
Porque me enchem de terror aqueles passos certos?
Qualquer coisa intimamente estranha sobe
por mim como a videira que trepa
em entrelaço pelos quintais.
Ele continua a andar e eu não me atrevo a desviar a vista,
como se o meu olhar se destinasse a proteger-lhe a alma.
Trato das flores do meu canteiro, rego-as
mas o coração vela-lhe cada passo
que oscila ante os meus olhos como a minha vida.

by Dvora Amir

translated into Portuguese by Ana Hudson from Jennie Feldman’s English version)

Dan Elbaum

4th Aug 2011

What a beautifully poignant piece, allowing the reader to wander between the lines, on that same narrow strip the boy is walking, without falling into either political absolutism or empty melodramatics. The translation stands strongly and cleanly on its own, taking as much from the bouyancy of English as the original did from the gravity of Hebrew.


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