The Palestinian Wedding: A Bilingual Anthology of Contemporary Palestinian Resistance Poetry, collected and translated by A.M. Elmessiri, illustrated by Kamal Boullata, Arabic calligraphy by Adel Horan, (Washington DC: Three Continents Press, 1982).
Erez Bitton’s second collection of Hebrew poems, The Book of Mint, appeared in Israel last summer, three years after Moroccan Afternoon. Bitton is an unusual man by any standard. He was born in Oran, Algeria, in 1942 and immigrated to Israel shortly after the establishment of the state in 1948. His parents had come to Oran from an oasis village in the Draa valley of southern Morocco, and their youth and his was imbued with the culture and nostalgia of Moroccan Jewish life, its tastes and smells, and the bite of their Judeo-Arabic dialect.
The Future and the Ancestor
The dead’s right grain
ls woven in our flesh
within the channels of the blood
Sometimes we bend
beneath the fullness of ancestors.
But the present that shatters walls,
and invents the road to come,
Right in the center of our lives
begets our race
and sows the salt of words.
Let the memory of blood
be vigilant but never void the day.
Let us precede ourselves
across new thresholds.
I am a woman…