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This week, we are thrilled to share Yael Herzog’s poem “August, Tel Aviv.” Yael’s poetry is searing in its imagery. She is deliberate and precise in her choice of words, while resisting excess and sentimentality. You can find another poem by Yael, “Immigrant,” in our first issue.
August, Tel Aviv
– Yael Herzog
Basil on the windowsill limps
And furrows in the teasing breeze.
Eucalyptus leaves curling and dry,
Spread their scent across the table
Cloth like an offering, shouts from
Men in the distance. This summer is long
And hungry, and the tide is always edging
Closer, forward. Sweat grows like mold
On every pore, four
Stalks of grey sage
Stand tall and already dead.
The floor is not swept, the sun
Keeps pushing its body whole
Into my home, an unwelcome guest.
What do I own? The windows open,
The day unmine.
Coffee, lukewarm and settled, waits
For my untouched lips, listless, still.
The truck’s restless moan
Eats my morning like a worm
Through soft wood. The sky
Undressed from its night
Reveals itself in small, geometric shapes
Between buildings. In the window across
Behind half-closed shades
A man walks then bends
Quick to lift — a blanket? A single
Shoe thrown behind the sofa?—
And disappears. The day is white
And unannouncing, an ocean
Of loud sounds, waking then breaking
Onto the city streets. A lover sleeps
Spread like a starfish at the edge
Of this town—dreaming a childish
Dream, breathing a childish breath—sour and
New, sex a wave of hard then
Soft, then hard again—my only homing.