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On the Night of the Exodus

Yehuda Amichai and Chana Kronfeld, translated from the Hebrew by Chana Bloch

I don’t imagine that on the night of the Exodus from Egypt,
between midnight and dawn, any couple still lay together
in love. We could have. In haste,
blood dripping from lintels and doorposts, the silver
and gold dishes clanging in the dark, between the stifled death-cry
of the firstborn and the shrieking of mothers’ wombs
emptying like a wineskin. And standing above them, legs wide apart,
the Angel of Death, his crotch gaping male and female
like a bloody sun in the thick of frizzy black death.
The sandals on their feet slap against the soft dough of matza
and the flesh of belly and thigh, hard belts
strapped choking-tight at the waist, buckles
scraping against skin, tangled in each other.
And to roll like that, locked in eternal love,
with all the rabble from the house of slavery
into the Promised Desert.

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