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UNTIL BORDERS COLLAPSE

A BILINGUAL POETRY COLLECTION

__________

Dina Ripsman Eylon

SISTERHOOD PRESS
This book is a translation of poems by Dina Ripsman Eylon from her book: On the Horizon in
the First Person. Tel-Aviv: Eked Publishing, 2011. [Hebrew]

UNTIL BORDERS COLLAPSE
A Bilingual Poetry Collection

Copyright © 2017 by Dina Ripsman Eylon

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any
means without written permission from the author, except in the case of reviewers who may quote
brief passages.

ISBN 978-0-9688949-4-1

Published by Sisterhood Press, Inc., Toronto, Canada
www.sisterhoodpress.com
sisterhoodpress@gmail.com

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Eylon, Dina Ripsman, author Until borders collapse: a bilingual poetry collection / Dina
Ripsman Eylon.

Translation of Hebrew poems into English by author. Poems in Hebrew and English. ISBN 978-
0-9688949-4-1 (ebk)

I. Title.

PS8609.Y56U57 2013 C811'.6 C2013-904443-4
Books by Dina Ripsman Eylon

Reincarnation in Jewish Mysticism and Gnosticism
Songs of Love and Misgivings
Waging Change: Vaughan Poets Engage in Politics (Editor)
In the Heart of the City
On the Horizon in the First Person [Hebrew]
PREFACE

In October 2011, I was invited to read my poems and participate in "Semana Poetica," a
momentous week of poetry and poets at Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA. Most of the featured
poets wrote in languages other than English. The college published a bilingual chapbook for each
poet. Until Borders Collapse is a revised edition of that chapbook.

Dina Ripsman Eylon
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Titles in English

Voices Coming from You 5
Black Dream 7
In My Youth 9
In the Heart of the City 11
Vox populi vox dei 13
At the Heavenly Palace 15
Bad Tidings 19
This World 21
I Was There 23
Wishes 25
“Write a Poem About Me” 27
My Father’s Funeral 29
Tragic Figures 31
My Child’s Smile 33
A Company of Soldiers 35
Battlefield 37
Rebellious Queen 39
The Wings of Love 41
About the Author 43
Voices Coming from You1

I heard voices coming from you –
not wondering about their frequency,
volumes of inscribed reflections, and tender touches,
as the wheel turned perpetually.

For me –
Ignore rushed renewals.
Rest along the shaded path.
Sip sweet wine.
Branch out flimsy twigs towards the sun,
like a young plant, aching for warmth.

Muffled, I found truth in your deceiving eyes,
evermore learning from your failures.

There the sun always set at the same moment,
telling the time when I most longed for you.

1
Translated by the author from the Hebrew original, On the Horizon in the First Person, (Tel-Aviv: Eked:
2011), 17.

7
8
Black Dream2

In my dream –
Herds of black chimpanzees
pounce on me,
caress my crimson neck,
wild with passion.

In this distant curve of life,
I expected majestic glee.
But this black enchantment,
exciting in color,
bewitched by primal vigor
binds me in fetters.

And the fig tree watered
by my blood and sweat
withered without chlorophyll and air.

2
Ibid., 16.

9
10
In my youth3
I wanted to ease desires with the palm of my hand
in raving rage demand what came to me

I wanted to stop that numbing pain
marshal my days in proper order
inherit in bare hands
chase my beloved through shades of forests where
lights wore flashes of dusk and odd gloom

* **

back from captivity in this unforgiving city
I waved to my love
tears soaked his bony cheeks

we swore allegiance
till borders collapse

monks chanted halleluiah
in the dimness of the cathedral

confinement ceased
in the Valley of the Cross.

3
Ibid., 15.

11
12
In the Heart of the City4

I told them that I lived sorrowful days
in the heart of the city.
No one believed me.

The city dressed in a long white gown,
its laughter heard infrequently,
as handcuffs were shackled.
Bustling city-square.
People come and go.
Their black garb,
deep stare,
darted to and fro,
and I meandered along,
fading from their hearts.

Arm in arm.
Shoulder to shoulder.
We’d walk to the shore,
hazy and dim.
As we strolled in a stifled silence –
you’d never believe,
even in a hopeful moment,
that I lived in the heart of the city
many days of sorrow.

4
Ibid., 14.

13
14
Vox populi vox dei5

When nothing remained of this world,
I rambled through the rubble.
Mountains of dust and ashes
covered the face of the earth.
White fire lapped
where the Angel of Death swiftly passed.

Flocks of sheep will never lie
under my window,
open to the chilly breeze of spring.
Like raging thunder, a crying voice
dissipated with the quivering light
into pitch-darkness.

5
Ibid., 67.

15
16
At the Heavenly Palace6

Here I am
at the heavenly palace,
adorned with cultured pearls,
inclined to Your sermons.

Sacrifices of repentance
offered on Your altar.
Spring fragrances ascend,
dispersed with gentle contemplation.

Here I am –
Keeping vigil.
Here I am –
Embrace me.

Nuances of scents imbue the thin air
as they drift with rays of light,
lingering in surrounding darkness.

Your throne tiled with precious stones,
fetched from vessels
lost in the supernal ocean.

Say Your name,
divine on my lips.
Say it in utter sanctity
while the Tree of Life still blooms.

6
Ibid., 70-71.

17
Say Your name again and again.
Erect my garden in Your manor.
Heavenly palace, heavenly palace –
Here I am.

18
19
20
Bad Tidings7

A raven screeched endlessly,
shooed away a couple of doves,
nesting among my drainpipes.
I never knew this could bring
bad tidings.

Without ample preparations,
you
glided
to
your
death.
Jumped
into
the abyss
of mountain winds
saturated with righteous souls.

Danger blurred the glow
mirrored in your eyes.
Mischief burned on your lips
as you flinched
in youthful silliness,
while our anxious being
was slowly erased
from your mind.

7
Ibid., 62.

21
22
This World8

In this world
where the blue sky
reflects into deep lakes –
there is no room for hatred and envy.

Dark greenery heals
the crust of the earth,
and pale pink calms
the nerves.

Whoever said that rainbow colors
are bold and meaningful –
probably, knew the secrets of creation.

And only I, innocently,
still wonder what they mean,
while those mystics know how,
precisely.

8
Ibid., 65.

23
24
I Was There.9

I watched eternal blossom –
fainting, wilting,
and disappearing from sight.
Diligent seraphim, mumbled softly,
and passed by like famished bats.

He stood high above us
at the outskirts of heaven,
conducting a choir of black swans.
He didn’t mind as the trees collapsed,
never stopped to wave his transparent arms
in malicious intent.
Sickly sneer reflected
on his sparkling teeth,
as He stood high,
high above us.

9
Ibid., 68.

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26
10
Wishes

Unfulfilled wishes.
Unrequited love.
She read my palm
in a broken Dutch accent.
Good and bad bemused
before her eyes
despite the surrounding noises.

She envisioned good tidings,
which turned upside down.
In hidden lands,
it was decreed
to undermine her predictions.

I asked, “what about my wishes?
Desires fall through the cracks.
What about them?”

Will his fiery touch
caress my aging body?
Will his velvety voice
dissolve my yearnings?

Hasn’t she promised
some resolution?

10
Ibid., 22.

27
28
“Write a Poem about Me”11

She pleaded. A smile adorned
her bright complexion,
like a pure white lily.

For days, we roamed the city streets,
murky from mob’s rustling,
and heavy acidic breath.

From time to time, I wrote,
listening to the daily news.
Amazed, I glanced
at the child I loved
by the fence, across the street.
I smiled to him and to myself,
sadly yearning.

The days continued to roam the city streets.
Their character – orphaned and humble.
At the time, I was debating
whether to write or stop,
which added to the burden
of writing a poem for her,
a special poem…

11
Ibid., 30.

29
30
My Father’s Funeral12

At the foot of the poppy-flower hill,
you laid in the Priests’ designated plot,
and your yellow body was wrapped in shrouds.

Hoshen and ephod13 you embraced incessantly,
as the ashes of the sacred cow were scattered
over your sins.

The sacrifices we offered
on the altar of good reputation,
and the pretence on your scarred face –
Do they fare in comparison to the suffering
and anguish you collected in misty roads?

While I swept the cemetery mud
from the doorstep of your house,
all your charming words were swiftly
concealed under the rug.

12
Ibid., 47.
13
“Hoshen - [Breast plates] The Breast-piece or sacred pouch, containing the Urim ve-tumim, worn on the
breast of the high priest when he ministered in the Holy Place to bring the tribes for memorial before
[God]. It was made of the same material as the ephod, a span square; set in front with twelve jewels in four
rows, engraved with the names of the twelve tribes. It was firmly fastened to the shoulders of the ephod by
gold chains passing through gold rings, and to the lower part of the ephod just above the girdle by a blue
ribbon passing through other gold rings…” (Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, 365.)

31
32
Tragic Figures14

We are tragic figures dancing in a circle.
A gloomy thread passes through us,
unnoticed, not understood.
The One who made us so similar to each other
sits on His throne and ridicules our flaws.
His entourage, cherubs of fire, chants hallelujah
to His spectacular creation:
"How great Your deeds are, Lord!"
And the flavor of human agonies
breathes out of their pure lips.

I wonder if He knows
my personal, pathetic story.
A story that haunts me
on moldy nights
and dreary mornings.
A story in which I play
the main character
in a b-movie,
that even Hollywood
rejected
ex post factum.

14
Ibid., 42.

33
34
My Child’s Smile15

Nothing in my child’s smile
fills my heart.
Nothing in my lover’s sorrow
softens my spirit.

Blinking of eyelids
spread through expressions
of logic –
pausing reluctantly
as boiling porridge burns
my skin.

Happy is the one who expects
roses,
youth,
and tenderness.

My lover could not –
my child lacked
the touching tears
of mending my erring words.

It is noticeable through my wrinkles
that I have traveled much in unworldly roads,
finding disappointment and sheer cruelty.

15
Ibid., 32.

35
36
A Company of Soldiers16

Along the path, a company of soldiers was marching on.
Little remained of their dusty weapons.
In their steps – we follow.
Their rifles – on our shoulders.
Their hymn is like an echo on our lips.

Halt the parade!
Preserve these paths for better days.
Disarm those guns’ barrels.

Let us pause beside this company of soldiers.
Let us draw well water in this Valley of Death.

Along the path a company of soldiers passed by –
No one has built his home there.

16
Ibid., 51.

37
38
Battlefield17

I haggled with dozens of violins serenading
in the midst of a swarming city.
Joyous circles of gunpowder and steam
decorated the grayish sky.
Peace descended from earth into the abysmal Sheol,
bustling with humans. Boldly, tranquility forms
new ties of friendships.

Bargaining – still going on.
Feet stamping.
Tight fists pound on the board.

The battle continues incessantly.
The world’s facing a silent doom.

Our throat is dry and hoarse,
from rage toward this heavenly being
that has long been severed from the animal world,
dedicated to futile creation of cherubs and fairies.

17
Ibid., 39.

39
40
Rebellious Queen18

In this vast and distant land, this poem was born.
Under the ironclad bridge the Jordan River flows gently,
its water green and pure.
Froth dissipates on smooth pebbles,
as the mouth of the river vanishes slowly from sight.

Crusaders flock to immerse their bright flesh.
Between the windpipes, birds build their nests.

In my dream, brown cows jump over our naked bodies.
The greenery and the might of the mountain range
confront us, black and mute.

Yet, in the muddy lagoon, leaner cows are spotted white.
In the summer, heavy-winged orphaned herons
stay behind to catch a breath of air.

And in a nearby village, smoke ascends from chimneys
as I detect stale body odor, coming from surrounding white walls.
In the wee hours of the morning, on an unpaved road,
my tired feet trampled over thorns and my soul trembles.

If given the chance of swimming amid the waves,
I would have been compared to a rebellious queen.

18
Ibid., 37.

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42
The Wings of Love19

Golden thrones come closer to each other,
so that you won’t notice the gap.
Amusingly, your limbs sway
as you watch the archangel steal the wings of love.

Hold on to the loot tightly.
Let the silky fabric stroke
your fingers delicately,
trembling no more.

Through the spectacles of life
many shades are playfully revealed
with every gust of wind
and every glint of light.

19
Ibid., 10.

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About the Author

Dina Ripsman Eylon, who has her Ph.D. in Post-biblical Hebrew Language and
Literature from the University of Toronto, was a Lecturer in Modern Hebrew at the University of
Toronto. Dina has written extensively on literary theory, feminism, and religion. She is the editor-
in-chief and publisher of Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journal. Her monograph
Reincarnation in Jewish Mysticism and Gnosticism was published by Edwin Mellen Press in
2003.
Dina’s poems were published in Convergence: Poets for Peace, Kinesis, Iranian Jewish
Chronicle, Verse Afire and in the anthologies Enchanted Crossroads and Stress(full) Sister(hood).
Dina was selected to participate as a guest poet at the 2011 Semana Poetica, held annually by
Dickinson College. She was the founder and chair of the Vaughan Poets' Circle, a progressive
group of poets. Her published poetry collections include Songs of Love and Misgivings (Beret
Days Press, 2006; 2nd revised and enlarged edition, Sisterhood Press, 2017); an edited chapbook
of political poetry Waging Change: Vaughan Poets Engage in Politics (Poetry Friendly Press,
2007); Kav Ha-ofek Beguf Rishon [On the Horizon in the First Person (Hebrew). Tel-Aviv: Eked
Publishing, 2011], The Heart of the City and Other Urban Poems (Sisterhood Press, 2011) and
this bilingual poetry collection Until Borders Collapse.

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