Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Strange, Strangers

Introductory note: The first version of this sketch was lost two minutes ago because of a "server failure".

Two strangers share lunch in a cafe
And drink their wine
Sleep away their miseries
And celebrate with a toast
While fifteen minutes away an Arab woman is beaten up by a soldier
While a Russian boy gets up for work
While a Dutch mother yearns for her son
Or perhaps she only yearned for herself while she had a son
Yet they soak their blood in the wine
As the time goes by
They celebrate with wine

Two strangers share lunch in Jerusalem
One remembers the other
And the other does not
For who can a remember a friend?
Not even his name
And one rejoices in the other
One stranger, another stranger
Two good friends
One from Nebraska
The second, a loather of Zion
They celebrate miseries
Contempt of other men
Wise the man who rejoices in misery
Such as the painter
Who refused to draw the naked woman
And insisted on the fly
Hovering on her brest

The bread also shares some contempt
Soaking itself in vinager
To make the mesmer bitter
To utter it sweeter
To remember the table
To dance with the wine
Across the table
Two young men
One man from Nebraska
And a loather of Zion


- "Are you done with it?"
- "Sure we're"
- "But you barely touched them! Oh please forgive me, I'm acting like such a Jewish mother, but you barely touched your food"
- "I think we had enough"
- "But you're so skinny"
- "And you're so Polish"
- "I can't help it, it's in my blood"

The two young men drink their coffee
Or one drinks, and the other imagines coffee
As they leave the cafe, one forgets
One does not
One remembers the place
One does not
And down the streets walking
They're lost among the crowd
They're not part of the stone
One remembers the table
The other remembers the stone
Jerusalem is made of stones
And graves of stones are made
But then again
It's Jerusalem after all
So why couldn't I remember tables
If one does remember temples that he never saw
And remembers suicide attempts
And attempts suicide

Her wrinkles grew older
And she bore too many a son
Who never called her Polish
Who never ate their food
Who never came back home
And she forgot even the stone
Living far from the dead
Anxiously waiting for a son to return
Such as that Dutch woman
That blonde
Perhaps they were friends even
Perhaps not
She no longer remember the two young men
At all
She only remember
The birthday of their friend
On the 9th of Av!
How paradoxical
She never thought about the man from Nebraska
Perhaps her son?
She never thought about her sons

As the two young men walked down the streets
One resembled the other
And rejoiced in one another
The younger man
Would live for a year in Nebraska
And would write a novel about Nebraska
And the man from Nebraska would commit suicide from the top of a high roof
And during her visit to New York she saw him jumping off the building
And she thought about her son
Did he eat enough?
She mumbled to herself as she rode on a bus
And once again helplessly she thought
Wheter than young man had eaten enough
A lawyer from Nebraska
A girl screamed in the dark
And the woman didn't think about Nebraska
But on whether he had eaten enough
And the poetry he read
If at all
He didn't look like a lawyer
When he jumped off that building
He looked more like anyone's son
Was that a metaphysical death?
She thought
Her son
Oh! her country
Beloved Zion
So unlike New York
Where people needed to kill themselves
How boring!
In Zion
You receive your sentence at birth
And no one worries no more

As she rode on the bus
She didn't know where to go
But she remember then
That there's no nothingness
And that there's no nowhere
Or so Parmenides said
And as they approached the ocean
She felt a void of lust
And dropped off
How strange, she thought
This reminds of some other place
And she started to walk
She walked down a street
She picked on a street
Not a beautiful street
But a boring one
Whereby everything looked the same
A street that could be anywhere

She took a glance on the sky
And then she thought
How strange,
The sky is the same everywhere
As she walked
And then once again she said
How strange, this place reminds me
Of some other place
Of a place I don't know
It's strange to think
We can even remember
Things we didn't know

Somewhere down an alley
Just next to a meat shop
Next to a bench
In front of a synagogue
But that wasn't important

On the bench is sitting a Russian man
A drunk Russian man
How strange,
She thought
He reminds me of a man I didn't know
She thought about his life
And imagined her own
In vanity
While a Dutch woman mourned her friend
Whose death she was never informed of
And a Dutch mother no longer misses her son
While a writer prays in the synagogue

And she saw the Russian man fall
Not from the chair
But apart
And still he fell not
But in his eyes
She saw it all
A writer?
No, perhaps a waiter
Never a lawyer
No, that no
Lawyers reminded her of people jumping off buildings
A waiter, oh yes
How she lived her past thoroughly in him

Thereby she sat
And shared his pain
And played herself the Russian man
She thought about Jerusalem
For once at all
How strange,
She thought
He reminds me of somebody else's suffering
Until the Russian man disappeared
And she no longer thought about him
But looked into the synagogue
And into the meat shop

Then she ran after the Russian man
But he also disappeared among the crowd
Such as those two young men
Young and skinny
Twenty years back
Although in that street
There was no crowd

He had forgotten a novel
That was dedicated in a language she didn't understand
And then she thought,
How strange
This novel reminds of somebody's death
And she started reading the novel where the Russian man had stopped
A novel about Nebraska
A novel written in Nebraska
She had never been there
But it reminded her of Jerusalem

On the way back to Israel
While in the plane
She suddenly thought:
Now I understand
The Russian man is a mourner
The lawyer suffered a metaphysical death
And the author of the novel is as yet unknown
And in her bed,
At nights
She dreamed about Nebraska
Because she didn't plan to visit New York
And Nebraska reminded her of Jerusalem

Her sister sent her a postcard twelve months later
With a picture of that street
With the meat shop and the synagogue
But she couldn't recognize it
Because she only remembered the bench
And the postcard said:

"It's a pity that you didn't find us in New York
Our house right in front of a synagogue and a meat shop
In a place near the ocean. But it isn't a good time to come.
People are committing suicide in other places too. Etty is in
Wyoming now. Her sons eat well "

16th August
Staten Island, NY


Anonymous said...

incredible, I couldnt stop reading it. then when you stopped, I was so disappointed to loose her.

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Anonymous said...

Ari, you bastard! I like being a lawyer and it isn't the same as jumping off of a building. I bought you lunch at that restaurant a bazillion times, and in return I get thrown in a poem about lawyers jumping off of buildings.

I remember you, miss you, and always love you like David loved Yonatan. Quit talking crap about our homeland, it is our homeland whether or not both of us are wandering nationalities without a country to match.