[Part of this poem was published in The Deronda Review, vol. 7 no.2.  Below is the complete version. -- The Editors]


Tsippy Levin Byron


To Primo Levi


I received the letter coded in your book.

Incomprehensible words expanded my pupil.

The gap between us diminished.

Your life pained all my limbs.


In India I was once burned by my love

So our souls could continue together.

Now if I were to walk straight, like you,

From the balcony to the air -

Too late. You are already dead these ten years.


“Il mio primo autore”

Tsippora - my name - was the most beautiful in your eyes.

If only I could be your bird,

If only you could call me “my wing” * -

My wolves would be sated with oats.


In determined sadness I would spray you with smiles

Sailing entropically among love salts,

Waiting for a solidifying shock.

Like a chemist I would have administered my love to you:

In precise, clean stages,

So that a minute difference would not set off an explosion.


Blood full of ancient ferments of mistresses and geishas

Would have flooded in my veins.

My hands, delicate clay wandering in circles

Calming the festering boils.

As Avishag, chosen, I would have stayed

Between you and the cold

Opening my store of love for you.


Had you wanted to travel far, as men do,

I would have cheated you for your own good

Saving you from dangers,

That would have been written about in the papers next morning.


As the hammerer in the house,

I will look at my swollen-fingered hands:

All that you wrote was painful and precise,

From my Tundra.


With a serene silence after up and down journeys

In glass tubes, thin as lace,

We will return loaded with broken colours

From the region to which the random blow

Once uprooted us.

Now the wind will push us from the rear.

I will read you this poem,

And if I haven’t died by then,

I will remain healthyer to begin the count of our era.


Under the prayer shawl of my losses

I will leave you room to be covered.

We will be soldered into an indifferent purity.

A common minor infection will create an underground language

Speaking Hebrew roots with Yiddish and Ladino declensions

Smirking one to the other in a low-voiced Jewish,

Loving and cursing our old and weak God.


You will sing to the mountains in Italian

The periodic table of the elements,

And I will pray in Hebrew,

the Psalms.


* Tsipora in Hebrew means bird

[from the collection "Lucid Words"