Interview with Mich Beyer

Interview with Mich Beyer

This interview took place originally as a written interview between Clayton (Clay) McKee and Mich Beyer (Mich) in French. It is translated here by Clayton McKee If you’d like to listen to the podcast episode made with this article, check it out here

Clay: Tell us a bit about yourself.

Mich: Hello! My name is Michèle Beyer and I am 74 years old. I was born in Douarnenez where I currently live. Before my hometown, I lived here and there: Paris, Quimper, Rennes, Botmeur in the Monts of Arrée. I completed my studies in classic and modern letters in Paris. I worked in a lot of different domains, but my main job for 8 years was as a teacher in maternal and primary Diwan schools, which is a network of Breton-language immersive schools. Then, for about 20 years, I was an instructor for adults of Breton learning structures, for example, Stummdi, Roudour, and Kelenn.

Clay: What is your relationship to Breton? Did you speak it at home when you were young? Did you learn it later on as an adult? 

Mich: My family came from various regions of France. My dad was from Alsace and French Flanders. My mother was from Brittany. I learned a lot of Breton when I was a child from my mother, family, and nearby neighbors. But that suddenly stopped when I went to primary school in the Parisian region. I missed Breton and I started studying it when I was a teenager. At first, it was by letter, and then later, when I returned to my home region, I took night classes, went to immersive workshops, and talked to childhood Breton-speaking friends.

Clay: What’s the status of Breton in Brittany today? How about more generally in France?

Mich: What a tough question! We estimate that there are about 280,000 speakers with a quickly disappearing number of elders. The majority of this elder generation spoke Breton but did not read or write in their language because it was forbidden at school. But, luckily, since the birth of the Diwan immersive schools in 1977, then the implementation of private and public bilingual channels as well as the growing number of organizations for adult education which propose long courses of 6 or 9 months, the situation is changing. The majority of new speakers are coming from urban areas and the majority of them are young. Furthermore, for the last 20 years or so, Breton has become a source of employment for teaching, socio-cultural entertainment, media, cinema, and even computing. I don’t have specific stats in mind but I think that the image of Breton has changed a lot. One of the signs of this larger visibility is the appearance of Breton on road signs, in cities, in certain administrations, or its use by many companies at least in terms of advertising. There is more visibility, but we are still in a very precarious situation. The French State does everything to halt and hinder this progress. The official dogma of French is that it’s the “language of the Republic” and this centralist force is wreaking havoc.

Clay: Talk a bit about your writing career. How many books have you published? Do you write solely in Breton? Are there any themes that inspire you in particular? Or do you write about what inspires you at the moment?

Mich: I started writing when I was a primary and maternal schoolteacher because we were sorely missing books for children. So, I wrote three novels and one short story collection for children and young teens. Then I stopped because of not having enough time. I got back into writing in the early 2000s but for adults this time. Planedenn paotr e bluenn (The Destiny of the One Who Wrote) is my thirteenth published book. I only write in Breton.

Inspiration is difficult to define. It varies. There are a lot of things that are tied to social relations between people, including violence. My stories range from today to older times (the Middle Ages, the 17th century, etc.). There are connections to art, individuals, society, and more. Sometimes, it’s one person in particular who inspires me, but it’s only a jumping-off point. Amongst my books, there are three detective novels, because it’s a literary genre that I love, but also because between two books that are “serious,” it’s really relaxing to work on a crime novel.

Clay: In 2022, you published Planedenn paotre bluenn / The Destiny of the One Who Wrote. We are very excited to include that in our issue Essential New Literature of Lesser-Known Languages of Europe. You can find the excerpt here. Can you tell us a bit about this text?

Mich: I often say it’s easier to write a book than to summarize one. This one is a very incomplete story about a young man living in a difficult time between war and sickness.

Clay: Why did you decide to write a story set in 1920? Why did you concentrate on the need to physically and psychologically heal? 

    Mich: I was inspired by my great uncle for the main character. I was very close to him and he was around twenty years old at the beginning of the First World War (1914-1918). He also had tuberculosis before dying at just around 100 years old! But, it’s not a biography whatsoever. I played off of his real life a lot! I wanted to write this story because in it I saw a ton of similarities with the worries and anxieties of youth today: the pandemic, general stress, and the risk of widespread war, etc. The young also yearn to change the world but their hopes seem blocked.

    Clay: The choice of language for a publication is very important. There are many scholars and authors, in particular, those who work in relation to the continent of Africa, who debate whether it’s better to publish in a language from colonization to reach a wider audience or in a native language for a local audience. Why do you choose to write in Breton? What does the language do for you (or for Brittany) by publishing in it?

    Mich: I never really thought about the choice of language. Breton is the language that I chose for my family, professional, and activist life. I live in a country in which language is very mistreated by the centralist State. We need books in our language. The young need it. French-language readers have a ton of things to read already, there’s no need to add further to it. Breton-language readers, even if they’re a minority, they need materials. We need new writers as well. It’s important to show others the path. To show that it’s possible to create and be creative in our language. But what I’m saying is not just true for literature. It’s needed as well for cinema, theater, and music and its diverse genres: rock, slam, rap, traditional, etc. It’s really needed across all types of media and cultural production.

    Clay: Can you share any resources about the language or to help us learn more about it and its culture?

    Mich: There are a ton of associations that offer language classes. Here are three: Skol an Emsav allows people to take classes in Rennes, Nantes, or even online. You can access their site here. Stumdi is another organization that provides classes for language. You can go to Stumdi’s website for information on this organization. Last is Mervent, you can access it at Mervent’s website, and it also has various classes and resources to learn for those interested. There are also full university curriculum in Breton that go the whole way through doctorate level, in particular in Rennes. There are also professional trainings and teacher trainings. For those who have attained a level that is sufficient to live their daily life in Breton, there is an immersive summer training where you can come with your whole family for one to two weeks. You can find information about this immersive camp here. Honesetly there are a ton of resources out there and it’s impossible to make a full list.

    Clay: What are you working on now?

    Mich: I don’t really have too many writing projects at the moment. But I’m translating a lot. I am translating from French into Breton The House of the People by Louis Guilloux, A Rector of the Ile de Sein by Henri Queffelec, The Empires of the Moon by Savinien Cyrano de Berjerac which is a political science fiction novel from the 17th century, and in this very moment, I am collaborating with an Icelandic translator friend on the translation of Jon Kalman Stefansson’s trilogy. I also do technical translations for expositions, associations, and various research projects for local cultural heritage. I also participate in a commission on literary translation under the guidance of the regional council for the public office of Breton language, which financially helps editors and translation for the translation of important works of world literature.

       

      Interview with Mich Beyer

      Une interview avec Mich Beyer

      Cette interview était une interview écrite entre  Clayton (Clay) McKee et Mich Beyer (Mich) en français. Si vous voulez écouter l’interview en anglais, cliquez ici

      Clay: Présentez-vous.

      Mich:

      • Bonjour ! Je m’appelle Mich (Michèle) Beyer et j’ai 74 ans. Je suis née à Douarnenez et j’y vis actuellement après avoir vécu ici et là (Paris, Quimper, Rennes, Botmeur dans les Monts d’Arrée…). J’ai fait mes études universitaires à Paris (Lettres classiques et Lettres modernes).J’ai exercé pas mal de métiers purement alimentaires et précaires, mais j’ai surtout été enseignante pendant 8 ans dans des écoles maternelles et primaires Diwan, le réseau des écoles bretonnes en immersion linguistique, et puis ensuite pendant une vingtaine d’années j’ai été formatrice pour adultes avec diverses structures d’apprentissage du breton (Stummdi, Roudour, Kelenn).

      Clay: Qu’est-ce que c’est votre relation avec le breton ? Est-ce que vous avez parlé le breton à la maison quand vous étiez jeune ? Avez-vous pris les cours à l’école ? 

      Mich: Je suis d’une famille issue de régions différentes, père d’Alsace et Flandres françaises, mère bretonne. J’ai beaucoup entendu le breton quand j’étais enfant, par ma mère, une partie de la famille et nos voisins proches, mais cela s’est arrêté quand je suis allée à l’école primaire (en région parisienne). Le breton me manquait et j’ai commencé à l’étudier à l’adolescence, par correspondance d’abord, et puis plus tard à mon retour au pays, en cours du soir, en stages immersifs et avec des amis brittophones de naissance.

      Clay: Qu’est-ce que c’est la situation du breton en Bretagne aujourd’hui ? En France ? 

      Mich: Question complexe ! On évalue le nombre de locuteurs à environ 280 000, avec une disparition rapide des « anciens » dont la grande majorité parlaient mais ne savaient ni lire ni écrire leur langue puisque elle était interdite à l’école, mais d’un autre côté, depuis la naissance des écoles immersives Diwan en 1977, puis des filières bilingues publiques et privées, ainsi que la multiplication des organismes de formation pour adultes qui proposent des formations longues (6/9 mois) la situation change. La plupart des nouveaux locuteurs sont issus de milieux urbains, ils sont beaucoup plus jeunes. Par ailleurs depuis une vingtaine d’années le breton est devenu source d’emplois (enseignement, animation socio-culturelle, médias, cinéma, informatique…). Je n’ai pas de chiffres en tête mais je pense que l’image du breton a beaucoup changé. Un des signes de cette plus grande visibilité est sa présence dans les signalisations routières ou en ville et dans certaines administrations, ou son utilisation par bon nombre d’entreprises au moins en termes publicitaires. Plus de visibilité donc, mais on est toujours en situation de grande précarité. Par ailleurs l’État français fait tout ce qu’il peut pour freiner et entraver ce progrès. Le dogme officiel de la langue française « langue de la république » et le centralisme forcené font des ravages !

      Clay: Racontez un peu de votre carrière en tant qu’écrivain. Combien de livres est-ce que vous avez publié ? Vous écrivez qu’en breton ou écrivez-vous en français aussi ? Est-ce qu’il y a des thèmes qui vous attirent ou est-ce que vous écrivez avec l’inspiration du moment ? 

      Mich: J’ai commencé à écrire quand j’étais institutrice parce que nous manquions cruellement de livres pour les enfants. J’ai alors écrit 3 romans et un recueil de nouvelles pour enfants/jeunes ados. Puis j’ai arrêté faute de temps, et j’ai repris l’écriture au début des années 2000, mais pour les adultes cette fois. Planedenn paotr e bluenn est le 13ème édité. Je n’écris qu’en breton.

      L’inspiration, c’est difficile à définir, c’est varié, il y a beaucoup de choses qui tiennent aux relations sociales entre les individus, y compris dans la violence, aujourd’hui ou à des époques anciennes (Moyen-äge, 17ème siècle…), à la relation etre l’art, l’individu et la société. Parfois c’est une personne particulière qui m’inspire, mais c’est seulement un point de départ ! Parmi mes livres il y a 3 polars, parce que c’est un genre littéraire que j’adore, et parce qu’entre 2 livres « sérieux » c’est un vrai délassement.

      Clay: En 2022, vous avez publié le livre Planedenn paotre bluenn et nous sommes trop contents d’inclure un extrait dans notre 24ième numéro de la revue. Est-ce que vous pouvez nous donner un petit résumé du livre ? 

      Mich: Des fois je me dis que c’est plus facile d’écrire un roman que de le résumer ! Celui-ci est l’histoire, très partielle, d’un jeune homme vivant à une époque difficile, entre la guerre et la maladie.

      Clay: Pourquoi est-ce que vous avez décidé d’écrire une histoire en 1920 et pourquoi un concentration sur le besoin de guérir physiquement et psychologiquement ? 

        Mich: Le personnage pricipal m’a été inspiré par un grand-oncle dont j’étais très proche, qui avait justement la vingtaine au début de la guerre de 14/18 et qui a connu aussi la tuberculose…avant de mourir quasiment centenaire ! Mais ce n’est pas du tout une biographie, j’ai beaucoup joué avec sa vraie vie ! J’ai eu envie d’écrire cette histoire parce que j’y voyais beaucoup de similitudes avec les inquiétudes de la jeunesse d’aujourd’hui (pandémie, risques de guerre généralisée…), les envies de changer le monde et les espérances bloquées.

        Clay: Le choix de langue pour une publication est très important—il y a beaucoup d’écrivains et théoriciens, en particulier en Afrique, qui se demandent si c’est mieux de publier dans une langue de la colonisation pour avec un public plus grand ou dans une langue native du coins pour parler à un public local. Pourquoi est-ce que vous avez choisi le breton ? Qu’est-ce que le breton fait pour vous (ou pour la Bretagne) dans la publication ?

        Mich: Je ne me suis jamais posé la question du choix de langues. Le breton est la langue que j’ai choisie, pour ma vie familiale, professionnelle et de militante associative. Je vis dans un pays dont la langue est très malmenée par l’État centraliste, on a besoin de livres dans notre langue, les jeunes en ont besoin. Les lecteurs francophones ont largement de quoi, pas besoin d’en rajouter. Les lecteurs brittophones, même s’ils ont minoritaires, eux sont en manque. On a besoin de nouveaux écrivains aussi, et c’est important de montrer la voie, de montrer que c’est possible de créer dans notre langue. Mais ce que je dis pour la littérature est vrai aussi pour le cinéma, le théâtre, la musique sous ses aspects divers (rock, slam, rap, traditionnel…), et tous les médias.

        Clay: Est-ce qu’il y a des ressources où on peut soutenir la culture et la langue bretonnes ? Est-ce que vous pouvez nous dire des livres, des sites ou des associations qui peuvent être utils pour apprendre la langue bretonne ? 

        Mich: Il y a plusieurs structures associatives qui offrent des formations longues. En voici 3 :

        https://www.mervent.bzh/qui-sommesnous-₃

        https://stumdi.bzh/presentation/

        https://skolanemsav.bzh/apprendre-le-breton/

        Mais il y a aussi des cursus universitaires complets, jusqu’au doctorat, à Rennes notamment, ainsi que des formations professionnelles aux métiers de l’enseignement. Et également, pour ceux qui ont acquis un niveau suffisant pour vivre au quotidien en breton il y a un stage immersif chaque été, où l’on peut venir en famille pendant 1 ou 2 semaines : https://www.keav.bzh/

        En réalité il y a tellement de possibilités que c’est difficile d’en dresser la liste !

        Clay: Qu’est-ce que sont vos projets à venir ?

        Mich: Pas vraiment de projets d’écriture. Mais je traduis aussi beaucoup. J’ai traduit du français La maison du peuple de Louis Guilloux, Un recteur de l’Île de Sein d’Henri Queffelec, Les empires de la lune de Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac (science-fiction politique du 17ème siècle), et actuellement je collabore avec une amie traductrice islandaise sur la traduction de la trilogie de Jon Kalman Stefansson. Je fais aussi assez régulièrement des traductions plus « fonctionnelles » pour des expositions, des associations, divers projets d’enquêtes participatives sur le patrimoine local. Je participe aussi à une commission « traduction littéraire » sous l’égide du Conseil régional et de l’OPLB (office publique de la langue bretonne) qui aide financièrement les éditeurs et traducteurs pour la traduction d’oeuvres importantes de la littérature mondiale.

           

          “Karoshi” from Sabotage by Jeff Schinker, translated by Alasdair Reinert

          “Karoshi” from Sabotage by Jeff Schinker, translated by Alasdair Reinert

          You slowly awaken only to suspend your disbelief. It feels as though you were beamed from another world, reincarnated. It is as if some higher power had booked the wrong destination for you at Karma HQ and you were suddenly reborn as an ant or some crawling midget.

          You lie in your bed. A beam of light, filtered through your closed eyelids, bores its way into your brain. “Get up,” begs your girlfriend. She says this in a sweet manner, but all you register is jarring noise. The events prior to your deep slumber slowly reveal themselves, the analepsis of which is somewhat akin to painstakingly re-assembling a puzzle made out of 5000 jigsaws, put together to escape some immense, decadent boredom.

          It’s a boredom that coincidentally matches the grand apartment in which it now spreads. A boredom which a great chunk of Western society tends to occupy with stupid pastimes, to compensate for the generous leisure time so hardly earned, to avoid thoughts of having to confront one’s own demise, the trickling away of time, the sell-by date that sticks to our bodies like a sweatshop label.

          You think about those 5000 pieces that you metaphorically assembled, just to end up with a nondescript image, a flower bouquet, a cow in a field, a pastoral landscape of such aesthetic banality that it makes your stomach churn. You think of that puzzle, where the resolved image isn’t given away on its box, and which eventually resolves into nightmarish imagery or explicit content, some horrible creature that rapes you, for example, the idea of which you rather like.

          Yesterday you couldn’t sleep again. Lying in bed as usual, your thoughts stirring, and the more you became aware of your thoughts stirring, the more you began to think about them stirring, at which point you ask yourself why this loop happens, if it were all just a manifestation of an unfulfilling existence, in which you permanently have to keep track of each passing day. And in contrast to your girlfriend, already lost in soothing, rhythmical breathing of truly deep sleep, you lie there and wonder if you will be able to shut off at all tonight. A question that’s sort of fatal as soon as it pops up in your head. But how do we prevent certain thoughts from intruding into our minds, like an unwelcome neighbour, say, like John Goodman’s character in Barton Fink?

          How do we avoid their harmful manifestations in our head, much like the work colleague that you despise, and begrudgingly encounter during your breaks at the only coffee vendor at the end of your office corridor, day in and day out? The vendor may be swapped due to malfunction, yet the colleague remains, despite his general annoyance.

          The same principle applies to the aforementioned thoughts stirring in your head. Or, while we’re on the subject of images, like the time you were at a painting residency during a workshop in Berlin, it was late summer, and you, who’d always been notoriously afraid of wasps, were the person that was, of course, most acutely aware of the residencies’ location next to a swarming lake, with poorly insulated windows to boot, a disconcerting number of black and yellow corpses lying on the thick carpets of the corridors, bearing resemblance to some of those utterly incomprehensible art installations set up by some of those “creative” friends of yours, and for which, you never show it, but guessing by the twisted look on your face, have only but contempt.

          And once one of those creatures came flying into your room, you were entirely preoccupied with this most unwelcome guest that consumed all of your focus, despite your girlfriends’ simple advice on the phone to just ignore the damn thing, because it was already the end of the season and the wasp probably, plausibly even, made its way into your room just to die there in peace and quiet, and she almost succeeded in you feeling empathetic towards the little parasite that only yesterday had ruined your Sunday roast in the beer garden, by greedily circling the leg of duck on your plate.

          But then the mental image reappears, as if in slow motion. Six of the flying predators plough through the brown gravy on your plate towards the pièce de résistance, you summon all of your courage and, armed with your fork, crush one of the beasts in two, feeling like one of Arthur’s brave knights for a moment. This memory triggers your panic, however, simultaneously obliterating all the calming attempts of your girlfriend. You continue to panic, although the poor wasp was just stuck to one of the curtains and was never going to play a game of last duel with you. That’s how these thoughts plague you as they sting you at night, just before you try to sleep.

          But now you’re awake again, or at least in a twilight state resembling semi-consciousness, and you wonder why your mind is already whirring with thoughts, although you know you’re still slightly asleep, and your girlfriend tells you that you really ought to get up, that we’d better be on our way, and the mental projection of the whole damn hygiene ritual between getting up and leaving the flat, the whole showering and teeth brushing and grooming and packing the daily essentials, all this makes you so depressed, that you’d just prefer to slip straight back into bed, but then you realize that you’re very much still in it, which in turn causes a new wave of despair.

          At last, you open your eyes. It’s 6:35 am. According to your cellphone. Realizing this makes you grumpy, and you channel this grumpiness into getting up, d’un coup, as the French tend to say. Speaking of the French, you tell yourself, keep in mind that one of their most famous countrymen, René Descartes, the reason he dropped dead, back in the day, was in no doubt because of his duty to rise very early each morning, being the precept to Queen Christine of Sweden, who would you believe it always chose to get up at 5 in the morning, or thereabouts, you don’t quite remember, and can’t really be bothered to Google it, your eyes still crusty, your surroundings blurry, distorted, you think of this unlikely match, Christine of Sweden and René, well, he just couldn’t cope with the routine, caught a cold, and gone he was, one of the most eminent philosophers, your fate’s going to mirror his, you think, I mean not that you were an important thinker, far from it, but you’d at least equal the great man by way of a gesture, be it a single, fatal one. And while you trod to the bathroom to get cleaned up, you mutter to yourself that a world that voluntarily agrees to get up at 6:35 am has quite simply failed.

          You tell yourself, for the hundredth time, whilst thinking of poor old René, at least in memoriam, that there are people who just aren’t made to rise early. You once read a study, can’t quite recall where, but you keep citing it to others ever since, but also inwards to yourself in a never-ending, grumpy monologue, very often, in any case, this study proved that people always follow their internal, circadian rhythm, independently from the external world and its myriad temporal obligations. In other words, there are those who rise well and early and those who don’t or cannot. And the latter are ruthlessly dominated by the former.

          The early birds, if we may so call them, have cemented their status and have long since imposed their will on us. Using the ridiculous precept of more or less following the rhythm of daytime hours, by which they more or less implicitly accuse the night owls of being a bunch of lazy bastards who lie on their backside all day. But what the early birds ignore, is that it is objectively absurd to spend the moments of natural daylight inside an office building. That might have made sense in the past when most of us worked in the fields. The fact that no one’s noticed this antinomy, that no one attempts to correct this, although I’m certain that if we added up all the complaining and the moaning on this planet in the morning hours between 6 and 7, in a single time zone, that should do it, an earth-shattering, groaning sound would result, the scale of which would extend well into space. That no one seeks to change this, just proves yet again that we’re all just miserable slaves.

          Concerning myself, (I’ll now stop using the second-person pronoun, just a narrative trick of mine), I’m a painter, or trying to become one. My ways of going about it are as follows: I always take on small jobs for 7 or 8 months, parental leaves that I use to replace, for instance, fixed-term contracts. Sometimes they offer to prolong my contract, then I have to find some way for them to fire me. This is a doddle since in earlier, more naive episodes of my life, I’ve often been made to leave or was fired, be it by colleagues and partners, from hospitals and schools. I’m well versed in this. After this, I’m on the dole.

          Of course, this is socially frowned upon, but I don’t care. As long as I can’t sustain myself from my art, I will rely, partially, on state welfare. But for this, I have to show up at the job center each day. And check in. So they can at least see that I’m awake. So that they are shown evidence, proof, that I try to integrate into the logic of the labour market. Which of course ushers one to wake up. The early bird catches the worm. L’avenir appartient à ceux qui se lèvent tôt, and similiar stupid catchphrases. As one can see, every language has its own equivalent. This is precisely where the indoctrination starts. Ten years ago you had to check in once a week, a decade earlier it was once a month. Now it’s every day. Late once, and you can say goodbye to your allowance.

          We slowly leave the flat. It’s winter, and a few snowflakes dancing around in the cold air seem to avoid having to settle down anywhere, very much like me I ponder. The car’s frozen, a whole layer of icy dust covering it like some dodgy gift wrap.

          After a few minutes of frenetic scratching, a bit as if we were bathing then scrubbing a massive pet, say, a domestic whale, my girlfriend proclaims that this whole early business here really is bollocks. That’s why I love her. She always seems less grumpy than me, who gets agitated about anything and everything. But in essence, our worldview, taken at large, is the same. What could one want more but to share a fragment of another’s worldview? Not much, I gather. Basically, we’ve come to find out the same things, having departed from the same premises. Only our conclusions differ. That’s how I find the world abysmal and she doesn’t. Perhaps I’m too demanding, or perhaps she’s too tolerant; in the end, it doesn’t matter. She takes everything with a grain of salt, whilst I remain bitter and cynical.

          We’re finally on the road. It almost seems like a pilgrimage, almost makes me chuckle. Stuck in the commuters’ traffic for an endless hour each morning, in order to pass the gates of the Church of the Latter-Day Neoliberals and fall on my knees before the saints, begging them for forgiveness, that I, poor soul, still haven’t learned the commandments. After which I’m ordered to hand them my Excel-Psalm documenting my daily efforts to find a new job. On my way there, I drop Jen off at her office. We’re both shattered and remain silent for most of the drive. Surrounded by a sea of lights, red, orange, white, and sometimes quite an ugly green thrown in, while the tiniest hint of sunrise shyly peeks through a diffuse sky to announce a new dawn. A whole procession of metallic creatures, loudly ploughing their way into town, polluting everything on their wayside, like a huge, endless animal, a sort of snake, if you will, a fantastical creature made out of aluminum, steel, and smoke, something that connects us all, something that makes us equal, and equally suffocates and devours us.

          My job advisor keeps me waiting, as usual. I always try to beat the queue first thing in the morning before the doors open, to be the first one served. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, as everyone else wants the same as me, so that, in this giant funnel in which the mob now settles, sticking together like moist freshly ground coffee in a filter, you end up rubbing elbows, something I almost relish as I try to overtake the antisocial bloke in his stupid jogging trousers or that bore with his briefcase, in order to take pole position at the ticket dispenser.

          I’d just seen him, how he stormed out of his office and pretended like he needed to urgently photocopy some document. In reality, he’d only waited for his coffee to be ready, it seemed like he couldn’t face the endless queue of jobseekers without helplessly staring into the black abyss of his coffee mug, as if he could shield himself from us unemployed.

          As if, by staring in said liquid, he could predict which one of us would soon receive a job offer. And who on the contrary, will have to rot in the waiting room for another few months, like a drab, under-watered office plant.

          As he calls me into his office, he gives me a stern, even angry look, jiggles a piece of paper in front of my nose, and starts reading from it. It was a letter written in French.

          Monsieur le Président-Directeur général, chers collègues,

          Je sais que la tradition exige que j’exprime, au cours de ce discours, ma gratitude d’appartenir enfin et officiellement et potentiellement à tout jamais à votre service. Permettez-moi néanmoins de vous dire que là ne sera pas mon propos aujourd’hui. J’aimerais au contraire vous dire que la boîte dans laquelle je bosse, je la vois un peu comme un enclos à vaches ou une cage à poules. Pendant des années, vous sucez mon énergie vitale en pétrissant mon pis pour en faire jaillir le liquide séminal de mon inspiration, quand vous n’attendez pas que je vous ponde des idées comme la poule son oeuf. Et, au bout d’un certain temps passé à faire bonne mine à mauvais jeu, à essuyer les regards ternes qui m’accueillent chaque jour, à endurer la terrible absence d’humour qui taraude cette boîte, après de loyales années jalonnées par quelques augmentations de salaire pas très fameuses et quelques ringards cadeaux d’entreprise – une montre en argent, qui ne fait que m’enjoindre implicitement à enfin venir à l’heure à mon travail, vous me mènerez à l’abattoir de la retraite, cette ultime salle d’attente où vous vous attendrez à ce que je regarde ma montre en argent frappée du logo de l’entreprise pour me rendre compte du gâchis que fut mon existence ? Comme si c’était à vous de décider, de choisir à ma place le divertissement pascalien qui, tous les jours, est censé me distraire de la certitude de ma mort et de la mort de ceux que j’aime, de me divertir de la faucheuse ? Et si je préférais, pour ne pas penser à la mort, plutôt donc que de travailler encore et encore, me bourrer la gueule ? Mais me la bourrer quotidiennement, et sévèrement ? Ou si mon idée du divertissement, c’était de collectionner des timbres, d’élever des moutons, de faire le tour du monde par ordre alphabétique des villes, de battre le record du monde du temps passé assis aux chiottes, de m’enfermer dans un cloître et de m’y taper des religieuses, ou encore, oui, de vous envoyer chier? Mais royalement, majestueusement ? Alors, voilà, avec cette missive, je vous envoie chier.

          Merci.

          “Right, I suppose you know how the speech goes on”, says my advisor in a schoolmasterly tone, as if he’d just caught a little rascal smoking in the schoolyard or had found dirty magazines in his rucksack. That’s exactly how his tone is now. Of course, I know how the speech goes on. It was me who wrote it in the first place. And kept refining it over the years. Every time the company is willing to offer me a permanent job due to my performance, I read them this letter. Their reaction is always delivered promptly: an angry HR clerk grabs the letter from my hands, tears it to shreds, and proclaims my immediate redundancy. Or better still, proclaims the non-renewal of my contract, meaning I’m legally allowed unemployment benefits and can thus return to my art.

          “Isn’t the letter great?”, I say, more than a little proud.

          The artificial lighting in his office seems to violently clash with the sunlight. But to ignore the power of sunlight is perilous. The sun’s sort of the Chuck Norris of lighting. After a while the pale artificial lighting fades and so do the spots it projects unto the four corners of his office. My advisor gets up, walks over to the curtains, pulls on a handle until all the grey blinds have covered the entirety of the window, and swallows up all of the daylight. The room suddenly turns dark, seems almost incinerated, ashen, with only a few spots of a brazen orange not unlike a slowly dimming fire.

          “You do realize what this entails? Your little number’s none other than a serious case of fraud. You deliberately made yourself redundant at your job, preferring to turn up here, again and again, to suck at the teet of our benevolent mother state. We’ve sussed out your little scheme for a while now. Not since yesterday have you held a firm place on our red list of fraudsters. We only needed a single other piece of evidence, and here we have it.”

          Again he jiggles my letter, his eyes, glinting like the night sky, making him seem almost possessed.

          “I’ll tell you what, my dear sir. Not only will we henceforth close the tap on your benefits, but you’ll be obliged to pay us back every last cent we paid out to you.” The way he demonstratively bangs his ringed knuckle on his desk, it seems like he rehearsed this at home in front of his mirror. “Otherwise, you can count on our bailiff to pay a visit to your miserable flat and confiscate what he pleases. In short: you’re fucked. And I’m already looking forward to receiving a hefty bonus.”

          He seemed so pleased that I almost expected him to clap his hands any moment. His calculating manner almost resembled a civilian version of Sherlock Holmes, without the drugs and devoid of any caustic wit. Dead boring, to be honest.

          “How dare you insult me in this way. There’ll be consequences!”

          Shit, I probably shouldn’t have been thinking out loud…

          “By the likes of it, the way you treat us unemployed, one would be forgiven to think that you’re the type that prefers foreplay, perhaps?”

          “You can try as hard as you may, to woo me with your argumentative chops, your elegghhh….” His sentence was abruptly interrupted by a gasp, as I pulled hard on his ash grey tie and tightened his collar, uncomfortably nearing his choking point.

          “Now YOU listen to me, you pratt. I could indeed just serve you one of my elegant ways of speech, smother you with my own prodigious use of language, let you delectably suck at my own brilliant ideas, and use my tongue to spit vitriol at your comfortable, numbing breed. But right here and now it’s just unbearably hot in your office, and I have a few canvases waiting for me at home. Which reminds me, I noticed something. Even the most mundane of offices is graced with some graphic embellishment, a decoration of some sort, perhaps a framed photograph or two of smiling offspring intended to show off the office clerks’ parenting skills.”

          “Posters also, often just pale reproductions of the old masters. Bookshelves filled with actual books. I can think of cacti too, tulips, or other flowers, all of them, without exception, reeking of plastic. There’s nothing of the sort here. Your pen is black, your notepad white, broken by the drab grey of your computer screen. Your coffee mug doesn’t even display any notable colour. Just plain white. What does this mean? I’ll let you come to your own conclusion. Go ahead and turn off my welfare tap. I’ll go home and draw. I’ll draw your miserable office, your miserable face, so that even the most uncultivated viewer, say, yourself, will get what I wanted to express, although I generally loathe any attempt to ascribe meaning or expression to my work. The only things I like to express are pieces of fruit or a sneaker, say.”

          And with those final words, I disappeared. I actually did complete the painting I threatened the advisor with. At night-time, as is my custom. It didn’t quite turn out the way I wanted. But for my first oeuvre done entirely with spray cans, it turned out pretty ok. You have to bear in mind, that I was sitting on a meager little staircase during the process and that the beam of the nocturnal streetlight didn’t exactly make things easier….projecting weird circles onto the dark wall of the large building, resembling a torn cinema screen. I intended to cover the entire wall, but the little ladder I brought was never going to be up to the task. My painting, however, certainly drew attention. Of course, they knew immediately who it was, given my signature, which I included out of principle. And now I find myself exactly where I wanted. In prison. Even managed to broker a single cell, where I can draw and paint in peace. Only miss Jen, really.

          Jeff Schinker (1985, Luxembourg) earned a Master’s degree in comparative literature in Paris. He has worked as the editor of the cultural pages for the Luxembourg daily newspaper Tageblatt since 2017. He published his first novell, Retrouvailles, in 2015. Sabotage is his second novel, which includes stories in French, Luxembourgish, English, and German. His multi-lingual work reflective of a neo-liberal society was shortlisted for the Servais Prize for Literature, the Lëtzbuerger Buchpräis, and the European Union Prize for Literature. In addition to novels, he is a playwright. Most recently, he wrote a play titled Bouneschlupp which addressed racism in Luxembourg. Since 2014, Schinker has organized, hosted, and participated in Désœuvrés—Works in Progress, a lecture series. In 2016 and 2023, he was the laureate of the writer’s residency at the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin.

          Alasdair Reinert emigrated to Montreal two years ago. He is now occupied with turning a formerly pronounced interest in drawing and painting in oils into a full-time career. Following convention for close to two decades, he worked as an employee for various private and public entities in Luxembourg, as an insurance salesman, teaching assistant, and then civil servant. His gradual reinvention as a visual artist, having studied with current European Masters, has led to group shows in Luxembourg, private commissions, as well as illustrations for the Lëtzebuerger Land weekly newspaper and Jeff Schinker’s novel Ma, vie sous les tentes. Besides this, he’s a regular contributor to TageBlatt daily newspaper, having written music and art reviews for its culture section.

          Poems in Faroese by Kim Simonsen

          Poems in Faroese by Kim Simonsen

          Hvat hjálpir einum menniskja at vakna ein morgun hesumegin hetta áratúsundið (2013)

          Tvær ferðir undir eikitrøunum í Washington Square Park
          misti eg vitið av einsemi millum milliónir av gulum bløðum.
          Aftan á samanbrotið og hugin til at renna oman á 9th Street
          at keypa ein hvítan puddilhund
          savnaði eg toftina av mær sjálvum saman.
          Roykti eina bláa Gauloises
          og keypti ein bakka av jarðberjum,
          slitin tók eg L-linjuna til Brooklyn
          gjøgnum milliónir av ókendum býarpørtum.
          Enn sita gulu bløðini føst undir skónum
          sum nýskitnir hundalortar.

          Eg særdi fotografin við gamla
          hálvtrýssara Rolleiflexmyndatólinum

          á Avenue A,

          tá eg bað hann fara av helviti til,
          sum ein hustlara í East Village.
          Í betonghimmalinum
          syngja nógv kór av djevlum

          vakrar sangir um

          menniskjað.

          Ert tú føroyingur?

          Tú ert ein veruligur føroyingur!

          Tú ert ein veruligur føroyingur, ið býr í New York?

          Ert tú ein veruligur føroyingur!

          Føroyingur?

          New York?

          Føroyingur!

          Hvat so um tú ert skít á gomlum fotomyndum,
          um ein skuggi hevur gingið aftan á tær
          sum ein smæðin risi,
          so er myrkrið í miðjuni
          av tíni sál títt egna,
          um so sjálvt himmalin
          er partur av tyngdarlógini,
          so flyta vit okkum
          við innari myndatólum
          millum tey deyðu
          og heilsa gáloysin
          grannakonuni, sum doyði í 1989.
          Eingin kann ganga aftureftir.
          Í morgun var hasin stóri ljósablái
          summarfuglurin ein ormvera.

          Áir, ið renna millum heimspartar,
          eru líkasum streymur,
          sum flóð ella fjøra,
          ið ikki hugsa um,
          hvørja strond tey hava broytt í nátt.
          Soleiðis er 
          við kensluni,
          sum einaferð var,
          ið nú er horvin
          sum fuglarnir
          sum verpa smá grøn egg.
          Hon er burtur hvønn morgun
          tá vit drekka Neskaffi og síggja,
          at reyða vetrarrósan
          í urtapottinum í vindeyganum
          er farin at spretta.

          Lívfrøðiliga samansetingin í einum dropa av sjógvi minnir um blóðið í mínum æðrum (2013)

          Mín kalda hond nertur við regnváta
          garðin, her luktar av mold,
          eg hoyri fuglaveingir.

          Eg hugsi um insektini
          blámaðkar
          virus,
          at orðið myrkur
          hevur myrk ljóð.

          Eg eri virus,
          eg eri illgresi,
          eg eri tað hýggiskotna.

          Eg eri ein,
          ið veit,
          at um einki annað,
          skulu hesi
          eta meg
          at enda,
          sum blaðlúsin
          og dreparasnigilin,
          ið etur plantuna.

          Eg síggi fótaspor frá einari kettu
          og finni ein særdan bringureyða í kavanum,
          hann hyggur upp á meg við sínum knappanálseygum,
          meðan hann bløðir,
          eg taki hann upp í hondina
          og royni at verma hann,
          hann veit
          og eg veit,
          at hetta var tað.

          Hendan morgunin doyði pápi mín.
          Ein byrjandi dagur hómast,
          um nakrar tímar er ljóst.
          Fjallatromin er klødd í kava.
          Í gjár skeyt eg eina haru haruppi,
          men hon helt á at renna
          so eg skeyt hana aftur.
          Tá eg fann hana var helvtin
          av høvdinum skotið av.

          Nú heilsar brimið degnum,
          ið kemur sníkjandi.
          Myrkrið, ið var, sleppir spakuliga
          kvørkratakinum á okkum.

          Tað hevur regnað uttan slit í dagavís,
          bøurin, havið og himmalin renna saman,
          vit eru ein flótandi umskiftandi støða,
          nú spíra gulir soppar á doyggjandi eikitrøum,
          meðan sólin fer niður
          og børkurin er fallin av trøunum.
          Eg eri áhugaður í tí ikki-menniskjaliga,
          í insektum, í virusum,
          í bruna
          í øllum
          sum lekur
          og dryppar millum
          okkara porøsu porur.

          Eg eti eina blommu
          saftin frá henni sproytar inn í munnin.

          Ovid sigur í Metamorfosunum:
          at einki lívrunnið er varandi,
          at heimsins endurnýggjari er náttúran,
          at einki í heiminum skal ganga undir,
          at alt skal broytast.

          Kim Simonsen (1970, Faroe Islands) is a Faroese writer and researcher from the island of Eysturoy. He completed his PhD in Nordic Literature at the University of Roskilde and has authored seven books as well as numerous essays and academic articles. He is the founder and managing editor of Forlagið Eksil, a Faroese press that has published over 20 titles. In 2014, Simonsen won the M.A. Jacobsen Literature Award for his poetry collection Hvat hjálpir einum menniskja at vakna ein morgun hesumegin hetta áratúsundið (What good does it do for a person to wake up one morning this side of the new millennium, forthcoming from Deep Vellum in 2024). His latest poetry collection, Lívfrøðiliga samansetingin í einum dropa av sjógvi minnir um blóðið í mínum æðrum (The biological composition of a drop of seawater is reminiscent of the blood in my veins), was published by Verksmiðjan in 2023.

          Poems in Faroese by Kim Simonsen

          Poems in English by Kim Simonsen, translated by Randi Ward

          What good does it do for a person to wake up one morning this side of the new millennium (2013)

          Twice under the oak trees of Washington Square Park,
          I lost my wits from loneliness among millions of yellow leaves.
          After my breakdown, and the urge to run down to 9th Street
          and buy a white poodle,
          I gathered my frayed nerves together.
          Smoked a blue Gauloises
          and bought a carton of strawberries.
          Exhausted, I took the L-line to Brooklyn
          through millions of the city’s unfamiliar corners.
          The yellow leaves are still stuck to the soles of my shoes
          like fresh dog turds.

          I offended the photographer with the old
          50s Rolleiflex camera

          on Avenue A

          when I told him to go to hell
          like he was a hustler in the East Village.
          In this concrete heaven,
          many choirs of devils sing

          beautiful songs about

          humankind.

          You’re Faroese?

          You’re an actual Faroese person?

          So you’re a real Faroese person who lives in New York?

          You really are Faroese!

          From the Faroe Islands?

          New York?

          Faroese!

          So what if you’re drunk in old photographs,
          and a shadow has always followed you
          like a bashful giant,
          the darkness at the center
          of your soul is your own,
          even if the sky
          is subject to the laws of gravity,
          we go through life
          with our internal cameras
          panning between the dead, 
          and we give our regards to the careless
          neighbor-lady who died in 1989.
          No one can live in reverse.
          This morning that big, light blue
          butterfly was a caterpillar.

          Rivers that run between continents
          are like currents,
          like the ebb and flow of tides
          that don’t think about
          which shores they’ve altered during the night.
          That’s how it is
          with the feeling
          that comes
          and goes
          like the birds
          that lay small green eggs.
          It’s gone each morning
          when we drink Nescafé and notice
          that the red, winter rose
          in the flower pot on the windowsill
          is starting to bud.

          The biological composition fo a drop of seawater is reminiscent of the blood in my veins (2024)

          My cold hand touches the rain-soaked
          fence, it smells of earth here;
          I hear the wings of birds.

          I think about insects,
          earthworms,
          viruses,
          that the word darkness
          has a dark sound.

          I am virus,
          I am weed,
          I am that which is mouldy.

          I am one
          who knows that,
          if nothing else,
          all these
          will one day
          consume me
          just as the aphid
          and the killer slug
          devour the plant.

          I see the paw prints of a cat
          and find a wounded robin in the snow;
          he looks up at me with his beady eyes
          as he bleeds.
          I pick him up
          and try to warm him in the palm of my hand;
          he knows,
          I know,
          it’s over.

          This morning, my father died.
          The faint trace of a dawning day;
          in a few hours, it will be light.
          The ridge top is covered with snow.
          I shot a hare up there yesterday;
          she kept running,
          so I hit her again.
          When I found her, half
          her head was blown off.

          Heavy surf hails the day
          stealing into view.
          Darkness slowly releases
          its stranglehold on us.

          It’s rained without cease for days;
          the fields, the sea, the sky blur together.
          We are a liquiform state of flux.
          Yellow fungi sprout from decaying oaks
          as the sun goes down;
          the bark has fallen off the trees.
          I’m interested in the nonhuman,
          the insects, the viruses,
          infection,
          everything that leaks and drips
          between our porous pores.

          I eat a plum,
          the juice shoots into my mouth.

          In the Metamorphoses, Ovid says:
          that nothing organic lasts forever,
          that nature is the world’s great renewer
          that nothing in the world perishes,
          that everything shall change.

          Kim Simonsen (1970, Faroe Islands) is a Faroese writer and researcher from the island of Eysturoy. He completed his PhD in Nordic Literature at the University of Roskilde and has authored seven books as well as numerous essays and academic articles. He is the founder and managing editor of Forlagið Eksil, a Faroese press that has published over 20 titles. In 2014, Simonsen won the M.A. Jacobsen Literature Award for his poetry collection Hvat hjálpir einum menniskja at vakna ein morgun hesumegin hetta áratúsundið (What good does it do for a person to wake up one morning this side of the new millennium, forthcoming from Deep Vellum in 2024). His latest poetry collection, Lívfrøðiliga samansetingin í einum dropa av sjógvi minnir um blóðið í mínum æðrum (The biological composition of a drop of seawater is reminiscent of the blood in my veins), was published by Verksmiðjan in 2023.

          Randi Ward (Belleville, West Virginia) is a poet, translator, lyricist, and photographer from West Virginia. She earned her MA in Cultural Studies from the University of the Faroe Islands and has twice won the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Nadia Christensen Prize. Her work has appeared in Asymptote, Beloit Poetry Journal, Words Without Borders, World Literature Today and also been featured on Folk Radio UK, National Public Radio, and PBS NewsHour. She is a recipient of Shepherd University’s Appalachian Photography Award, and Cornell University Library established the Randi Ward Collection in its Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections in 2015. For more information, visit randiward.com.

          “The Old Well Underneath the Old Walnut Tree” by Boris Sandler, translated by Jordan Kutzik

          “The Old Well Underneath the Old Walnut Tree” by Boris Sandler, translated by Jordan Kutzik

          Ice cream. Just the word alone, without even being able to lick it, taste it and feel its sweet cold burning on my tongue, makes my mouth water. Such a tasty, chocolate-buttery word “ice cream”; it melts in my mouth and warms my heart.

          And although that tasty word is always on my tongue, it is, as if to spite me, intimately bound with another word – tonsillitis. This awkward, bitter word, which has its own nasty pharmacy-smell, is also always on my tongue. Well, not on my tongue, but on my mother’s.

          “Mommy, I want ice cream!”

          “No more! You just had such bad tonsillitis!”

          Yes, the two opposite words match much like my new pair of boots. The right one fits perfectly; I can walk and run and jump. The left one, though, pinches me so badly that I can’t even take a step. I have to keep my toes curled the whole time.

          It’s the middle of summer. I’m lying in bed. My neck is wrapped in my mother’s woolen shawl, which has two things going for it: it warms me like a stove and it itches as if an army of starving ants is biting me. My mother hands me a plate with a waffle cup, and it isn’t empty. My heart pounds with excitement. It’s the exact type of waffle cup that ice cream is sold in.

          I know those cups well. I’ve seen them lined up, one inside another, in the bird-coop-like booth with plywood walls where a plump woman with a round face and red cheeks sells ice cream. Standing in her starched white apron, she uses a spoon to fill the waffle cup with ice cream before placing it on a scale. Squinting at the dancing pointer, she begins removing scoops of ice cream. I often stand there watching the scale from the other side of the window, barely able to contain myself. Enough! Leave it alone. None will be left for me!

          Enthusiastically, but with a little suspicion, I glance at my mother.

          “What is it?”

          “Can’t you, guess? It’s that thing you love so much.”

          I am ready to yell, “Hurray, ice cream!” but my tonsillitis announces itself with a stabbing pain in my throat.

          “Doctor Soybl prescribed this,” my mother explains. “Ice cream is the best medicine for you now.”

          Our family doctor is a grey-haired man of average height with sincere, childlike eyes that take everyone at their word. Every day you can see him walking down the street in his faded, light coat, which was once apparently a dark blue. Over his black boots he wears a pair of clumsy galoshes, and he keeps a worn-out leather portfolio held tightly against his body with his arm. The round wooden end of his stethoscope often sticks out from the portfolio’s outer pocket. I know that inside the portfolio’s inner pocket is a pad with prescription sheets.

          Doctor Soybl is a regular visitor to our home due to my frequent bouts of tonsillitis. He only has to open the door of our veranda for me to know who is there. I recognize him not only by his soft sing-song voice but also by the groaning squeak of his old boots.

          At first, you can hear the squeaking coming from the hallway as he stamps a few times, pulls off his galoshes, and removes his coat. Then, the squeaking accompanies him into the kitchen, to our lead washbasin, where he rinses his hands with soap and dries them with a towel left especially for him. By the time he finally approaches my room, it seems more and more with each step he takes that it isn’t his old boots that are squeaking but rather something inside me. No, I’m not the least bit afraid of Doctor Soybl. He isn’t going to give me any shots, God forbid. But he is a doctor. And doctors are, well, doctors.

          I know that he will soon sit down at the end of my bed and say, “I see, boy, that our throat is hurting us again,” as if not I but both of us are crawling through the wilderness of that awful tonsillitis. The doctor will prod my throat below my jawbone with his cold, soft fingers. Then he will take a little silver spoon that my mother has brought from the kitchen and I, an experienced patient, will open my mouth wide, stick out my tongue, and choking, barely manage a soft “ahhh.”

          Today the whole process repeats itself. But this time, the doctor presses my tongue so hard against my bottom teeth with the spoon that I scream “ahh” not only because I’m supposed to but also because I’m actually afraid that I’m about to bite off my tongue.

          “Yes,” the doctor says, half singing the word as he finally takes the spoon out of my mouth. “You’ve sure got something to brag about with swollen tonsils like these.”   

          He tussles my hair and stands up.

          “Well now, my boy. I’m going to write you a prescription that will soon get you back on your feet.”

          I hear the creaking of his boots again but barely notice it. What really interests me is what Doctor Soybl and my mother are whispering about in the other room.

          “We can’t put it off any longer!” Doctor Soybl says in a quiet but assured voice.

          “But maybe…” my mother begins, seeming lost.

          “No maybes,” Doctor Soybl says. “As soon as he recovers a bit, we’re going to get him ready for the operation.”

          *

          A few hours later my mother is handing me a plate with a waffle cup and Doctor Soybl’s medicine.

          “You know I can’t give you any cold ice cream,” she says. “So, I warmed it up a bit.”

          Warmed-up ice cream? I’ve never heard of such a thing before. But do I have a choice? Let it be warmed-up ice cream, so long as it’s ice cream.

          I take the plate from my mother and try the unusual medicine. I sit for a while licking my lips and think to myself that everything adds up. The ice cream is just as white and sweet as cold ice cream, but all and all, the flavor reminds me of a simple semolina porridge. And I can’t stand semolina porridge. Then again, how would semolina porridge have ended up in a waffle cup? And another thing – if ice cream can be warmed up a little, then perhaps it might taste a bit like semolina porridge? In short, no matter how much I ponder the matter, I come to the same conclusion: this is real ice cream but perhaps with a slight aftertaste of semolina porridge.

          While thinking it over, I fail to notice that soon nothing remains of my warm ice cream and waffle cup. Full and content, I return the empty plate to my mother.

          “Thanks, Mommy! Will you give me the same medicine this evening?

          “Of course, silly,” my mother laughs. “I hope you’ll enjoy it.”

          I feel that the moment has come when I can ask my mother for what I want and she won’t deny me. “Mommy,” I ask, “tell me something about your hometown.”

          “Well, I think I’ve told you everything there is to know,” she says. “And more than once already.”

          All the same, she adjusts the woolen shawl around my neck and sits down on a chair to face me. She begins telling her story and takes my hand in her own. It seems that all the years that my mother spent in her beloved hometown, those long bygone years before I ever walked the earth, are now traveling from her hand to my hand, from her heart to my own.

          Truth be told, I’m not listening to my mother’s storytelling with my usual rapt attention. Something disturbs me. I feel it gnawing at me and eating me up from the inside. Yes, the new medicine will soon get me back on my feet but what about the operation? It’s not for nothing that Doctor Soybl said that as soon as I feel a bit better, he will get me ready for the operation. How, I want to know, do you get someone ready for an operation?

          I soon imagine myself being sent to the hospital, without my mother or father, all alone with nobody to help me! I picture myself being given lots of shots, made to undergo all sorts of tests, having pills crammed down my throat, and being forced to gargle with bitter mouthwash. Not a soul takes pity on me.

          I remember Hersh, the young boy who died last summer. “Oh, Hershele,” came the heart-wrenching cries from our neighbor Breine’s house. “Oh, my poor child. Maybe if they hadn’t operated on you, you’d still be alive.”

          I suddenly come down with a terrible fever. Every vein in my body throbs, as if someone is banging on a locked door yelling, “Operation! Operaatiooonn!”

          And what if I die like young Hershele? No! I’m almost a grownup already. I’m old enough to do something. I must do something. Why am I just lying here? What am I waiting for? Flee! Yes, yes, I will run away from home.

          I tear the awful shawl from my throat and jump out of bed, run into the kitchen and then into the hallway, onto the veranda, push open the door, and I’m outside. I’m free…

          It’s a miserably hot day. The sun hangs over my head as I walk and walk and walk. But no matter how long I walk, the sun never moves an inch. I break out into a sweat. The red-hot dusty surface of the road burns my shoeless feet. I begin to climb a hill.

          I’ve never been here before. So how do I know that the road will turn to the left shortly beyond the hill? Or that it passes through nice little green woods and that behind the woods, as if behind an enchanted wall, is a little town? I know because this is, of course, the place where my mother was born. I’m off to visit her hometown. I’ll walk down its narrow streets, each one just like the others, so small that they don’t even have names. They are always dirty and soiled because a townswoman doesn’t have to go far to pour out her wastewater. Rather, she empties out her bucket right outside the door. Not outside her own door, of course, but in front of her neighbor’s door across the street.

          Soon her neighbor will run out and start making such a racket that the whole street will be able to hear: “You imbecile! You stinker! Don’t you have a better place to pour out your wastewater than on my doorstep?”

          And the woman holding the empty bucket will yell: “Listen ladies, she can throw out her trash right underneath my window but heaven forbid I toss out a little bit of clean water.”

          “May your filthy water gush onto your head and flood your bowels,” her neighbor will yell back, “if you dare compare it to my trash.”

          When I walk by the little tailor’s synagogue, I will surely come upon Yankl the Broody Hen. That’s what the townsfolk call the small young hunchback with a thin red beard and a greasy yarmulke that looks like it’s permanently glued onto his head. People say that he went insane because of his father, who wanted him to be a kosher butcher even though Yankl, poor thing, can’t stand the sight of blood. When Yankl the Broody Hen sees someone walking by he runs up to him and begins to cluck: “Coo, give me a Co-Co-kopek, and I’ll lay an egg. Coo, Coo, Coo.” While clucking, he stretches his skinny neck, his narrow shoulders become even narrower, and a thin dull film veils his eyes just as if he were a real broody hen. Once he gets like that, he’ll cluck and beg and won’t stop pestering you until you give him the coin he’s after. Then he’ll jump for joy and scream, “I’ve tricked you. I’m not a hen. I’m a rooster, ha, ha…” And flapping with both arms, he’ll let out a full-throated cock-a-doodle-doo.

          Further down the road, I will stop for a bit at Berl Katz’s barbershop. The large, crooked, round letters on the shop’s rectangular, white sign are rubbed out, and all that remains of the original Yiddish words, “Parek-makherske,” is “makher.” The town jokesters didn’t need anything more to work with. They stuck the remaining letters from the sign, which spelled “makher,” onto Berl Katz’s surname and voila, a ready-made nickname: Berl Katznmakher, Berl the Cat-Maker. How else can it be? Who lives in a Jewish town without having a nickname?

          Something happened to Berl the Cat-Maker that created quite the hullabaloo in town. For a long time, you could hear the story being retold in secret in every house, in every alley, in all of the little shops, in the marketplace, in the communal bathhouse, in all five synagogues, and even in the cemetery. The story traveled from mouth to mouth so quickly and for so long that those who actually witnessed the event had to decide for themselves whether it really happened the way people said it happened or the way they had actually seen it.

          It all started one day when Berl the Cat-Maker got into an argument with his business partner Velvel Loksh, Velvel the Noodle, who felt that Berl the Cat-Maker was taking all the credit for the shop and most of its money too.

          “Remember, Berl,” Velvel yelled at him while standing in the doorway. “You are a cat and you will soon dream of black cats.” And he slammed the door.

          A few days later, around sunset, three strange men showed up at Berl’s barbershop. The men, dressed in long white garments, looked not unlike three corpses in their funeral shrouds. Their faces, covered in soot, shone as brightly as the polished leggings of a general’s boot. Besides the barber himself, there were two customers in his shop: Motl the Ropemaker was waiting for the barber’s chair to become free and the other customer, Srol the Beadle, was taking a nap in that very chair while getting his shave. One of Srol’s cheeks had already been shaved and the other was still covered in lather.

          The three men didn’t linger near Berl for long. Having surrounded the petrified barber, one of them took his shaving razor, another grabbed him tightly from behind, and the third silently took his shaving brush out of its little bowl of soap and lathered Berl’s head. The barber didn’t have much of a head of hair, yet his thin black hair was always combed just so – evenly parted and slicked back with brilliantine. Berl, poor thing, didn’t even manage to blink an eye before the strange man with the razor shaved off his nicely kept hair so cleanly and smoothly that he no longer needed any brilliantine.

          Just at that moment, when the deed had already been done, the half-shaven Beadle Srol awoke from his sweet slumber. He sat there for a moment, looking into the mirror with his two sleepy eyes, apparently unsure whether or not this was a dream. Suddenly, he shot out of the chair and ran outside with the barber’s towel still draped around his neck. The half-shaven Beadle ran through the dark alleys screaming at the top of his lungs: “The dead have risen! They have been resurrected! The Messiah has come!”

          The second customer, Motl the Ropemaker, poor thing, who until then had stayed in his corner, was frightened out of his wits and didn’t know where to turn. When the Beadle Srol ran away, he too got up and fled.

          The next day, the whole town was aflutter. Everyone looked at the bizarre event through his own eyes and interpreted it in his own manner. After much debate, the town’s wise men came to the following conclusion: the strangers were actually three angels, who had descended to Earth to tell the world, through Berl the Cat-Maker’s shaven head, that the Messiah would soon come and that the Jews ought to get ready to leave town. Yes, everything it seemed had been explained, but there was still one thing nobody could understand: why did the angels disguise themselves as Africans? But an angel was still an angel. Perhaps they were Ethiopian Jewish angels.

          Who knows just how far the story might have spread or how interesting it may have become if Velvel Loksh, after getting a bit tipsy one day, hadn’t told his friends that he was the one who used the razor to spread the part in Berl’s hair over his entire head. “He will dream of black cats,” Berl bragged to his friends. “Black cats!”

          *

          The sun still hasn’t moved an inch. It hangs above my head like someone has hammered it onto the sky. When oh when will the little green woods appear? I walk and walk and it seems as though the road will never end. I’m dying of thirst. My throat burns, and the burning engulfs my whole body. I’d do anything for a sip of water.

          There, not far from Berl the Cat-Maker’s barbershop, near the middle of town, is an old well underneath an old walnut tree. My mother has told me many times that she’s never tasted anything like the cold, healing, magical water from that well. Life in the town began, by the way, around that very well. As long as anyone can remember, there has always been a well there. Even my grandfather and my grandfather’s grandfather reveled in the well’s sweet water. At night, when the newborn crescent moon swims above the town, young brides silently sneak out to visit the well, peering into it with fluttering hearts. Maybe what they say about the well isn’t just an old wives’ tale. Maybe there in the deep dark depths, the face of their one true love will appear.

          Nobody remembers who first dug the well or who planted the old walnut tree. Not even Grandma Leah.

          Grandma Leah is so old and broken down that her great-grandchildren carry her around in their arms like a little doll. They set her down on the earthen bench dug underneath the outer wall of their house, and she sits there almost the entire day, silently rocking herself, as if she wishes she were a young child in a cradle. She is a shrunken little woman who is reminiscent of the black bundle she once took to women in labor. The ancient Leah is, it seems, the grandmother of the entire town. How many babies has she delivered in her long life? She’d bathe each of them in the water from that old well and then bless each newborn soul, praying the baby would have a happy life until the age of 120. And how many stories does she know? Like birds of many breeds, her stories fly all over town and make nests in children’s souls. For every child in town, she has another story.

          Grandma Leah has a special story about the well. My mother has told it to me at least a hundred times. Whenever a pious Jew dies in her hometown, his soul descends into the depths of the well. There, at the very bottom, the path that his soul will take to the seventh heaven begins. But before it can rise that high, it first needs to bathe in thousands of springs and thousands of bodies of water. The soul will be washed clean of all earthly sins and failings, and only then will it be permitted to ascend to the heavens and shine there alongside the other stars in the sky, as brightly as a bride under the wedding canopy.

          *

          I need to go on. I want to see my mother’s town with my own eyes. I want to listen to all of Grandma Leah’s stories and drink from the holy waters of the old well. With just one sip, I’ll soon get better, and I won’t need to have any operations.

          With my last bit of strength, I manage to climb to the top of the hill. And there it is, the marvelous cool woods, so close that if you stretch out your hand, you’ll sway the green treetops. I can hear their rustling. I can even feel their freshness on my face. I’ve arrived. I’m standing not too far from that longed-for place where my mother’s life began. But I can’t see the town itself yet. The woods are hiding it from me. But I see a little wisp of transparent smoke swirling behind the trees. It’s as if a thread binds the town to the sky and the sky to the town. The violet wisp of smoke feels like a greeting from my grandfather.

          My grandfather is a stove maker. Nearly every house in town is heated by one of his stoves. I’ve never seen my grandparents. And, of course, they’ve never seen me. But I know that I’ll recognize them. My mother has told me so much about them that I can picture them as if they are right before my eyes. It’s possible though that Grandma and Grandpa won’t recognize me. But I don’t believe it. Grandparents recognize their own grandchildren at first glance. And people say that I take after my mother, so they’ll certainly recognize her in me.

          I imagine how overjoyed they will be to have me visit. Grandma will bake me a whole tray of pumpkin knishes, and then we’ll all sit down together at the table. I’ll sit on one side, and Grandma and Grandpa will sit on the other side, facing me. I will chew the tasty pumpkin knishes, and Grandma and Grandpa will beam at me with pride. Such a good guest. Such unexpected joy! A holiday in the middle of the week!

          Suddenly, I hear shrieking coming from the town. What’s happening? Have all of the women begun arguing with each other? Perhaps some more angels have turned up in town? The pleasant little wisp of smoke from Grandma’s summer griddle begins to grow and is soon a thick black cloud that covers the sky. It looks as if the sun has gone blind.

          Cloaked in the sudden darkness, I stand on the hilltop stunned, without the strength to take another step. The screams are now coming from the woods. The peaceful rustling of the beautiful treetops has turned into a heartrending cry. Hundreds of Breines, it seems, are crying and mourning their one and only Hershl. Now there is gunfire. And the longer the gunfire continues, the quieter the shrieking becomes until a moment arrives when only the trees are weeping in the black, orphaned, silence.

          The darkness spreads apart like two sad halves of a curtain being drawn back. A man emerges from the smoke-filled woods. Swaying and holding both hands on his head, he runs to the hill and screams, “They’ve all been slaughtered. All the hens, roosters, and chicks.” Passing his hand over his throat, the man remains still for a moment, shakes and falls to the ground.

          I run up to him.

          Yankl the Broody Hen is lying on his back in the middle of the road with wide-open pupils. His hump sticks out from behind his right shoulder as if he has fallen on a stone. His red beard stands upward, and it seems that the whole sky is now affixed to the tip of his beard.

          My legs go out from under me. Despondent and exhausted, I fall to my knees. I begin to sob silently. “Yankl, why are you just lying there? Why aren’t you clucking? Look, I’ve brought you a kopek. I found it underneath my dresser. I was going to use it to buy a soda, but I’ll give you the kopek. Just don’t be silent. Say something, anything.”

          I quietly howl like a helpless animal that has lost its mother. I feel as if I’ve been tricked, as if I’d been promised something for a long time, and then the thing never appeared. Even worse – I’ve been robbed. I’ve been robbed of the only thing I owned, my most beautiful dream: seeing my mother’s hometown with my own eyes. Too late. I’m too late.

          Not understanding why, I spread my arms wide to the sky as hundreds of generations have done before me and as hundreds of generations after me will probably do. A song tears out of my heart, light and clear like those stars that traveled all the way from the bottom of the old well underneath the old walnut tree up high into the heavens. The song was born in those holy souls, and I merely bring it onto my lips with my childish voice. I am but the shofar ringing out throughout the now emptied world. All the trials and tribulations of bygone generations now find expression in my sad, lofty Kaddish. Upon reaching the highest note, when my soul and my flesh melt into the surroundings and soar somewhere far above, a strange, false voice suddenly cuts out the wings from underneath the song. For a short moment, the sounds hang in the air, suspended between Heaven and Earth. Then, like beads on a burst string, they shoot out in all directions.

          I lay my head down. My eyes fall upon the chin of a Billy goat that is completely covered in ash. The goat is standing in the very same spot where Yankl the Broody Hen lay. The point of the goat’s beard is entirely burned off, and the charred patches of its white fur look like black patches on a funeral shroud.

          “Meeeh,” the goat bleats again as he threatens me with his pointy, crooked horns. I see Yankl’s greasy yarmulke caught upon one of them.

          A great terror takes ahold of me. Where has this goat come from? And where did Yankl’s body go?

          I take off back towards home. I run and run and the crazed goat keeps chasing after me. Soon enough, in just another few steps, he will get me. I can already feel the pinching where his sharp horns are about to tear into my flesh. High upon the hill, the goat finally catches me and performs its nasty work.

          I roll faster and faster down the hill. Soon I don’t know where the ground ends and the sky begins; they’ve merged before me into one blue-green rug. I close my eyes. I need to do something. Another second and not a trace will be left of me! I would have been better off if I had stayed home and let them prepare me for the operation.

          Mom, Mom, where are you Mommy?

          “I’m here my son. Right here as always.”

          I open my eyes with great difficulty. My head is still spinning, my feet ache as if after a long journey. My feverish visions slowly retreat away from me and return to the dark night of the past. The here and now, with all of its tangibility, shows itself clearly in the sunlight of a new day.

          My mother, tired and worn out with blue patches under her eyes, sits at my side and holds my hand as if we haven’t been separated for even a moment. The rays of sunlight shine through the windowpane and become lost in her disheveled hair, turning it a golden color.

          She bends down towards me, touches her warm lips to my forehead, and with a hoarse voice says, “Thank God. Your fever has broken.”

          She looks into my eyes for a moment and with a sigh, as if responding to my feverish dreams, says, “Everything will be alright my son. God willing.”

          Feeling her healing touch upon my forehead, her breath upon my face, and seeing her all-knowing gaze, my heart suddenly lightens, and I become calm. It’s as if I’ve taken a sip from the old well underneath the old walnut tree.

          Boris Sandler (1950, Bălți, Moldova) was a classically trained violinist who left his position in the Moldovan State Orchestra to begin an unlikely career as a Yiddish writer. His first collection of fiction, Stairway to a Miracle (1986), appeared in Moscow to great acclaim. After moving to New York in 1998, he served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Yiddish Forward until 2016. The author of more than a dozen volumes of fiction and poetry in Yiddish, Sandler has seen his work translated into English, Hebrew, Russian, German, and Romanian. The most highly acclaimed Yiddish writer of his generation, Sandler has received every major Yiddish literary prize, including the Jacob Fichman Prize (2002), the Dovid Hofshtein Prize, awarded by the Yiddish Writer’s Union in Israel (2005), and the J. I. Segal Prize from the Jewish Public Library of Montreal for the best new work of Yiddish literature (2010 and 2014).

          Jordan Kutzik is a literary translator, journalist, publisher, and law student. From 2013-2021, he was a staff writer and deputy editor of the Yiddish Forward. His Yiddish-language journalism has covered everything from artificial intelligence, spaceflight, and the Winter Olympics to debates about abortion, drug legalization, and gay marriage in the Jewish community. Besides the Forward, his journalism and translations have appeared in Yiddish-language publications in France and Israel, in Hayden’s Ferry Review, and in Have I Got a Story for You, a Norton anthology of fiction from the Yiddish Forward. A 2015-2016 translation fellow at the Yiddish Book Center, he is currently completing a translation of Boris Sandler’s collected short fiction and novellas. Kutzik is the founder and publisher of Kinder-Loshn Publications, which releases classic works of Yiddish children’s literature in bilingual Yiddish/English editions.

          “The Old Well Underneath the Old Walnut Tree” by Boris Sandler, translated by Jordan Kutzik

          דער אַלטער ברונעם אונטערן אַלטן נוסנבוים by Boris Sandler

          אײַזקרעם. נאָר דאָס וואָרט אַליין, אַפֿילו אָן דעם איך זאָל דעם אײַזקרעם פֿאַרזוכן, אים אַ לעק טאָן, דערפֿילנדיק באַלד מיט דער צונג דעם זיסן ברי, — פֿלעגט זיך עס מחיהדיק צעשמעלצן אין מויל און טרײַבן די סלינע. אַזאַ באַטעמט, פּוטערשאָקאָלאַדנע וואָרטאײַזקרעם‟ — עס צעגייט זיך אין יעדן אבֿר.

          און כאָטש דאָס געשמאַקע וואָרט איז מיר שטענדיק געלעגן אויף דער צונג, איז עס, ווי אויף צו להכעיס, געקניפּט און געבונדן מיט אַן אַנדער וואָרטאַנגינע. אָט דאָס פּריקרע־ביטערע וואָרט, וואָס האָט געהאַט אַן אײַנגעשטאַנענעם אַפּטייק־ריח, איז בפֿירוש אויך תּמיד געלעגן אויף דער צונג, נאָר שוין ניט בײַ מירבײַ מײַן מאַמען.

          מאַמע, כוויל אײַזקרעם

          מער גאָרניט?! האָסט ערשט געהאַט אַזאַ שווערע אַנגינע

          יאָ, די צוויי היפּוכדיקע ווערטער האָבן זיך געפּאָרט צווישן זיך, ווי יענע נײַע שטיוועלעך: דאָס רעכטע שטיוועלע איז אַקוראַט אויף מײַן פֿיסלגיי און שפּרינג און לויף; דאָס לינקעקוועטשט מיר אָבער אַזוי אָן, אַז איך קאָן קיין שפּאַן ניט מאַכן. כמוז די גאַנצע צײַט אונטערבייגן די פֿינגער.

          איין מאָל, גראָד אינמיטן זומער, ליג איך אין מײַן בעטעלעדער האַלדז איז מיר אַרומגעוויקלט מיט דער מאַמעס וואָלענער פֿאַטשיילע, וואָס האָט צוויי גרויסע מעלות: זי וואַרעמט, ווי אַ גוט אָנגעהייצטע הרובע, און בײַסט זיך, ווי אַ מחנה אויסגעהונגערטע מוראַשקעסאון די מאַמע דערלאַנגט מיר אויף אַ טעלערל אַ וואַפֿליע־בעכערל, פֿאַרשטייט זיך, ניט קיין ליידיקס. דאָס האַרץ האָט מיר אַ טיאָכקע געטאָן: פּונקט אין אַזעלכע וואַפֿליע־בעכערלעך פֿאַרקויפֿט מען אײַזקרעם.

          בײַ דער דיקלעכער פֿרוי אין אַ ווײַסן אָנגעקראָכמאַליעטן פֿאַרטעך מיט צוויי רויטע בעקעלעך אויפֿן קײַלעכדיקן פּנים, וואָס האַנדלט מיט אײַזקרעם אין אַ קליין פֿאַנירשטיבל, ענלעכס אויף אַ שטאַרנשלאַק, זײַנען די ליידיקע וואַפֿליע־בעכערלעך אויסגעלייגט אויף אַ פּאָליצע שורותווײַזאַ בעכערל אין אַ בעכערל. מיט אַ לעפֿל פֿילט די פֿרוי אָן דאָס וואַפֿליע־בעכערל מיט אײַזקרעם, שטעלט עס אַוועק אויף דער רעכטער שאָל פֿון דער וואָג, און, וואַרפֿנדיק יעדעס מאָל קאָסע בליקן אויפֿן טאַנצנדיקן ווײַזער, הייבט זי ערשט אָן מיטן לעפֿל אָפּצופּן פֿון דער פּאָרציע שטיקלעך אײַזקרעם. איך שטיי בײַם פֿירעקיקן פֿענצטערל פֿון דער אַנדערער זײַט וואָג און האַלט זיך קוים אײַן: שוין! גענוג אַזוי פֿיל צופּן! סוועט מיר דאָך גאָרנישט ניט בלײַבן!

          מיט התפּעלות, נאָר פֿאָרט מיט אַ טראָפּנדל חשד, קוק איך אויף דער מאַמען.

          וואָס איז דאָס?

          אַנו, טרעף! סאיז דאָס, וואָס דו האַסט אַזוי ליב.

          איך בין שוין גרייט געווען אויסשרײַען: „הוראַ, אײַזקרעם!‟ — די אַנגינע מײַנע האָט מיר אָבער באַלד געגעבן אין זיך צו וויסן מיט אַ שטאָך אין האַלדז.

          דאָס האָט דיר דער דאָקטער סויבל פֿאַרשריבן, — זאָגט ערנסט די מאַמע. — אָט דער אײַזקרעם איז פֿאַר דיר איצט די בעסטע רפֿואה.

          אַ גראָווער, מיטלוווּקסיקער מענטש מיט צוויי קינדערש־ריינע אויגןזיי נאַרן קיינמאָל ניט אָפּ און גלייבן יעדן אויפֿן וואָרטאיז ער געווען אונדזער משפּחה־דאָקטער. מהאָט אים יעדן טאָג געקאָנט זען אין גאַס אין זײַן אָפּגעבליאַקעוועטן דעמיסעזאָן־מאַנטל (אַמאָל

          איז עס, אַפּנים, געווען אַ טונקל בלויס) און אין אַ פּאָר אומגעלומפּערטע קאַלאָשן, אָנגעשטעקט אויף די שוואַרצע קאַמאַשן. פֿון אונטער דער פּאַכווע, צוגעדריקט מיטן עלנבויגן, האָט זיך אָנגעזען אַן אויסגעריבענער עק פֿון זײַן לעדערנער פּאַפּקע. אין

          דער פּאַפּקע איז אין איין קעשענקעלע געלעגן אַ פּעקל מיט ריינע רעצעפּטן, און פֿונעם אַנדערן קעשענקעלע האָט אַרויסגעשטעקט דאָס הילצערנע רעדל פֿון דעם סטעטאָסקאָפּ.

          איבער מײַנע אָפֿטע אַנגינעס איז דער דאָקטער סויבל געוואָרן בײַ אונדז אין שטוב אַ היימישער מענטש. סאיז אים גענוג געווען אויפֿעפֿענען די טיר פֿון דער וועראַנדע, אַז איך זאָל באַלד דערשמעקן, ווער סאיז צו אונדז געקומען. איך פֿלעג שוין דעם

          דאָקטער דערקענען ניט נאָר נאָך זײַן ווייךזינגעוודיק קול, נאָר אַפֿילו נאָכן קרעכצנדיקן סקריפּ פֿון זײַנע אַלטע קאַמאַשן.

          בײַם אָנהייב האָט זיך דער סקריפּ עטוואָס געהערט אינעם קאָרידאָר, בשעת דער דאָקטער האָט זיך דאָרט אַ פּאָר רגעס געטאָפּטשעט אויף אַן אָרט, אַראָפּגעשלעפּט די קאַלאָשן און אויסגעטאָן דעם מאַנטל. דערנאָך האָט אים דער סקריפּ באַגלייט

          אין קיך אַרײַן צום בלעכענעם וואַשבעקן, וווּ דער דאָקטער האָט זיך אַ ווײַלע פֿאַרהאַלטן: אָפּגעוואַשן זיך גוט די הענט מיט זייף און זיי אָפּגעווישט מיטזײַן‟, ספּעציעל פֿאַר אים צוגעגרייט, האַנטעכל. צום סוף, ווען דער דאָקטער סויבל איז שוין געגאַנגען גלײַך צו מײַן צימער, האָט זיך מיר מיט יעדן שפּאַן זײַנעם אַלץ מער און מער אָנגעהויבן אויסצודאַכטן, אַז ניט די אַלטע קאַמאַשן סקריפּען, נאָר עס סקריפּעט עפּעס אין מיר אַליין. ניין, כהאָב פֿאַרן דאָקטער סויבל ניט מורא געהאַט. קיין שום איניעקציעס וועט ער מיר, חלילה, ניט מאַכן. און דאָך איז ער אַ דאָקטער, ווי אַלע דאָקטוירים.

          איך האָב שוין גוט געוווּסט, אַז באַלד וועט ער צוגיין צו מײַן געלעגער, זיך צוזעצן אויפֿן עק בעטעלע, אַ זאָג טאָן: „כזע, ייִנגעלע, דאָס העלדזעלע טוט אונדז ווידער וויי‟ — גלײַך ווי ניט איך אַלייןמיר ביידע קריכן ניט אַרויס פֿון די וויסטע אַנגינעסאון דער דאָקטער וועט מיך אַ טאַפּ טאָן בײַם האַלדז, נידעריקער פֿון די באַקביינער מיט זײַנע ווייכע, שטענדיק קאַלטע פֿינגער. דערנאָך וועט ער נעמען בײַ דער מאַמען דאָס זילבערנע לעפֿעלע, וואָס זי האָט פֿאַרכאַפּט מיט זיך פֿון דער קיך, און איך, ווי אַ קראַנקער מיט סטאַזש, וועלכער ווייסט שוין אַפֿריִער וואָס און ווען, וועל ברייט אויפֿעפֿענען דאָס מויל, אַרויסשטופּן די צונג און, וואַרגנדיק זיך, אַרויסקוועטשן פֿון זיך: „אַאַאַ!‟

          די גאַנצע פּראָצעדור חזרט זיך הײַנט אויך איבער. דער דאָקטער קוועטשט מיר אָבער אַזוי שטאַרק צו די צונג מיטן לעפֿעלע צו די אונטערשטע ציין, אַז דעםאַאַאַשרײַ איך שוין ניט נאָר דערפֿאַר, ווײַל איך דאַרף אַזוי שרײַען, כהאָב פּשוט מורא, אַז אָט־אָט בײַס איך זיך אַליין אָפּ די צונג.

          יאָ, — זינגט אויס דער דאָקטער, אַרויסשלעפּנדיק סוף־כּל־סוף דאָס לעפֿעלע פֿון מײַן מויל, — מיט אַזעלכע צוויי אָנגעשוואָלענע מאַנדלען איז ניט קיין בושה זיך צו באַרימען.

          ער גיט מיר אַ שויבער דעם קאָפּ און הייבט זיך אויף פֿונעם בעטעלע.

          נישקשה, ייִנגעלע, איך וועל דיר באַלד פֿאַרשרײַבן אַזאַ רפֿואה, וואָס וועט דיך איינס־צוויי שטעלן אויף די פֿיס.

          עס דערהערט זיך ווידער דער קרעכצנדיקער געסקריפּ פֿון זײַנע אַלטע קאַמאַשן, דאָס רירט מיך שוין אָבער ווינציק וואָס. איצט אינטערעסירט מיך מער, וועגן וואָס שעפּטשען זיי זיך דאָרט איבער אינעם צווייטן צימער, דער דאָקטער סויבל מיט מײַן מאַמען.

          דער דאָקטער סויבל (שטיל, נאָר מיט אַ זיכערקייט אין קול):

          מער אָפּלייגן טאָר מען ניט!

          די מאַמע (פֿאַרלוירן):

          און אפֿשר

          דער דאָקטער:

          קיין שוםאפֿשר‟! ווי נאָר ער וועט אַ ביסל קומען צו זיך, וועלן מיר אים אָנהייבן גרייטן צו אַן אָפּעראַציע.

          *

          דאָס אַלץ איז געשען מיט אַ פּאָר שעה צוריק, און איצט דערלאַנגט מיר די מאַמע אויף אַ טעלערל דאָס וואַפֿליע־בעכערל מיט דאָקטער סויבלס רפֿואה.

          ווי דו פֿאַרשטייסט שוין אַליין, — רופֿט די מאַמע זיך אָן, — קאָן איך דיר אַצינד ניט געבן קיין קאַלטן אײַזקרעם, האָב איך אים אַ ביסעלע דערוואַרעמט.

          וואַרעמער אײַזקרעם?! דאָס ערשטע מאָל הער איך אַזוינסנאָר מילא, כהאָב דען אַן אַנדער ברירה? זאָל שוין זײַן וואַרעמער אײַזקרעם, אַבי אײַזקרעם!

          איך נעם בײַ דער מאַמען דאָס טעלערל און פֿאַרזוך די ניט־געוויינטלעכע רפֿואה. אַ ווײַלע זיץ איך, באַלעק זיך די ליפּן. איך טראַכט צו זיך אַליין: אַלץ, דאַכט זיך, גייט זיך צונויף: דאָס־אָ איז פּונקט אַזוי ווײַס און זיס ווי קאַלטער אײַזקרעם, אָבער נאָכן טעם נאָך דערמאָנט עס אַ פּשוטע מאַנע־קאַשע. און אַ מאַנע־קאַשע קאָן איך אין מויל ניט נעמען. פֿון דער אַנדערער זײַט, ווי קומט אַ מאַנע־קאַשע צו אַ וואַפֿליע־בעכערל? און נאָך אַ זאַך: אויב אײַזקרעם קאָן מען נאָך אפֿשר יאָ אַ ביסעלע דערוואַרעמען, איז פֿאַרפֿרירן אַ מאַנעקאַשעאַ קיצור, ווי אַזוי כהאָב ניט געדרייט, האָב איך פֿון דעסטוועגן אויסגעדרייט, אַז דאָס איז טאַקע אמתער אײַזקרעם, נאָר מיט אַזאַ בײַטעם פֿון אַ מאַנע־קאַשע, וואָס פֿילט זיך קוים־קוים.

          בשעתן טראַכטן, באַמערק איך אַליין ניט, ווי פֿונעם וואַפֿליעבעכערל און פֿון דעם וואַרעמען אײַזקרעם בלײַבט ניט קיין סימן. אַ זאַטער און אַ צופֿרידענער קער איך דער מאַמען אום דאָס ליידיקע טעלערל.

          אַ דאַנק, מאַמע! פֿאַר נאַכט וועסטו מיר ווידער געבן די זעלבע רפֿואה?

          אַוודאי, נאַרעלע, — און די מאַמע גיט זיך פּלוצעם אַ צעלאַך. — סזאָל דיר ווויל באַקומען!

          כפֿיל, אַז סאיז געקומען די רעכטע מינוט, ווען איך קאָן בעטן בײַ דער מאַמען וואָס איך וויל, און זי וועט מיר ניט אָפּזאָגן. בעט איך:

          מאַמע, דערצייל מיר עפּעס וועגן דײַן שטעטעלע.

          כהאָב דיר שוין, דאַכט זיך, אַלץ דערציילט און ניט איין מאָל.

          און פֿונדעסטוועגן, פֿאַרריכט די מאַמע די וואָלענע פֿאַטשיילע אויף מײַן האַלדז און זעצט זיך אַוועק אַנטקעגן מיר אויף אַ בענקל. זי דערציילט און די האַנט מײַנע האַלט זי אין איר האַנט. עס דאַכט זיך, אַז די אַלע יאָרן, וואָס די מאַמע האָט פֿאַרבראַכט אין איר ליבן שטעטעלע, יענע ווײַטע יאָרן, ווען איך בין נאָך אויף דער וועלט ניט געווען, גייען איצט איבער פֿון איר האַנט אין מײַן האַנט, פֿון איר האַרץ צו מיין האַרץ

          דעם אמת געזאָגט, הער איך הײַנט דער מאַמעס דערציילן ניט מיט אַזאַ פֿאַרכאַפּטקייט ווי תּמיד. עפּעס שטערט מיר, טאַָטשעט און עסט מיך פֿון אינעווייניק. יאָ, די נײַע רפֿואה וועט מיך טאַקע גיך שטעלן אויף די פֿיס, וואָס טוט מען אָבער מיט דער אָפּעראַציע? ניט אומזיסט האָט דער דאָקטער סויבל געזאָגט, אַז ווי נאָר איך וועל קומען צו זיך, וועט מען מיךאָנהייבן גרייטן צו אַן אָפּעראַציע‟. און ווי אַזוי, וואָלט איך געוואָלט וויסן, גרייט מען צו צו אַן אָפּעראַציע?..

          כשטעל זיך באַלד פֿאָר: מע לייגט מיך אַרײַן אין שפּיטאָל, איך בלײַב דאָרט איינער אַלייןאָן דער מאַמען און אָן דעם טאַטןאַליין אָן קיינעם ניט! מע מאַכט מיר יעדעס מאָל איניעקציעס, כּלערליי אַנאַליזן, מע שטופּט אין מיר אַרײַן פּילן, מע הייסט מיר שווענקען דעם האַלדז מיט ביטערע שווענקעכצןאון קיין שום נשמה האָט אויף מיר קיין רחמנות ניט! און פּלוצעם דערמאָן איך זיך אינעם קליינעם הערשעלע. פֿאַראַיאָרן זומער איז ער געשטאָרבן. „אוי, הערשעלע! — האָבן זיך געטראָגן פֿון דער שכנותדיקער שטוב דער מומע ברײַנעס האַרץ־רײַסנדיקע געשרייען, — אוי, מײַן קינד! ווען מע מאַכט דיר ניט אפֿשר קיין אָפּעראַציע, וואָלטסטו געלעבט און געלעבט!‟

          עס האָט מיך באַשלאָגן אַ היץ. עס ציטערט אין מיר יעדעס אָדערל. אין די שלייפֿן קלאַפּט דאָס בלוט, ווי עמעצער וואָלט געקלאַפּט אין אַ פֿאַרשפּאַרטער טיר און געשריגן: „אָפּעראַציע! אַפּעראַציע־ע־ע!‟… און טאָמער וועל איך אויך שטאַרבן, ווי דער קליינער הערשעלע? ניין! איך בין שוין אַ גרויסער! איך דאַרף עפּעס טאָן! וואָס ליג איך! וואָס וואַרט איך! אַנטלויפֿן!.. יאָ, יאָאַנטלויפֿן פֿון דער שטובאָט רײַס איך באַלד אַראָפּ פֿונעם האַלדז די נימאסע פֿאַטשיילע. איך שפּרינג שוין אַרויס פֿונעם בעטעלע, כלויף אַרויס אין קיך, דערנאָך אין קאָרידאָר, אויף דער וועראַנדע, כגיב אַ שטופּ די טיר, איך בין אין דרויסן, איך בין פֿרײַ

          סאַראַ הייסער טאָג. די זון איז געבליבן הענגען איבערן קאָפּ. איך גיי, איך גיי, איך גיי שוין לאַנגאון די זון רירט זיך ניט פֿונעם אָרט. איך באַגיס זיך מיט שווייס. דער צעגליטער שטויב אויפֿן וועג בראָט מיר די באָרוועסע פֿיס. איך גיי אַרויף אויף אַ באַרג

          אין די ערטער בין איך נאָך קיין מאָל ניט געווען. פֿאַר וואָס זשע ווייס איך גוט, אַז באַלד נאָכן באַרג וועט דער וועג פֿאַרקערעווען אויף לינקס? פֿון דער ווײַטן וועט זיך ווײַזן אַ גרין שיין וועלדל, און דאָרט, הינטערן וועלדל, ווי הינטער אַ פֿאַרכּישופֿטער וואַנט, באַהאַלט זיך אַ קליין שטעטעלע. נו אַוודאי, דאָס זײַנען די ערטער, וווּ מײַן מאַמע איז געבוירן געוואָרן. איך גיי, הייסט עס, צו גאַסט אין מײַן מאַמעס שטעטעלע. איך וועל גיין איבער די שמאָלע געסלעךאיין געסל איז ענלעך צו אַן אַנדער געסל, — זיי האָבן אַפֿילו קיין נעמען ניט. שטענדיק זײַנען זיי פֿאַרשמוציקט און פֿאַרמיסטיקט, ‏ווײַל כּדי אויסצוגיסן די פּאָמויניצע דאַרף אַ שטעטלדיקע בריה ניט לויפֿן ווײַט. זי גיט דעם עמער אַ פּליוסקע אויס גלײַך בײַ דער טיר. פֿאַרשטייט זיך, ניט בײַ דער אייגענער טיר, בײַ דער טיר אַנטקעגן. לויפֿט באַלד אַרויס די שכנה און צעפּילדערט זיך אויפֿן גאַנצן געסל: „שלימזלניצע! שטינקערין! האָסט שוין ניט וווּהין צו גיסן דײַנע פּאַמויעס? נאָר אויף מײַן שוועל!‟ רופֿט זיך אָן יענע, מיטן ליידיקן עמער אין דער האַנט: „הערט נאָר, ווײַבער, זי מעג יאָ שיטן מיסט אונטער מײַן פֿענצטער, און איך אויסגיסן אַ ריין ביסל וואַסער…‟ — „סזאָל דיר שוין גיסן אויפֿן קאָפּ און וואַסערן אין בויך, — שלאָגט זי די שכנה איבער, — מײַן מיסט פֿאַרגלײַכט זי מיט אירע פּאַמויעס!‟

          בײַם שנײַדערישן שולכל וועט מיך אַוודאי באַגעגענען יאַנקל די קוואָטשקעאַזוי רופֿט מען אים אין שטעטל, דעם קליינטשיקן האָרבאַטן בחור מיט אַ געל שיטער בערדל און מיט אַ פֿאַרשמאַלצענער יאַרמלקע אויפֿן שפּיץ קאָפּ, ווי מע וואָלט זי צו דעם אָרט אויף אייביק צוגעקלעפּט. מענטשן דערציילן, אַז משוגע איז ער געוואָרן איבער זײַן טאַטן, וועלכער האָט אים געוואָלט מאַכן פֿאַר אַ שוחט, און יאַנקל האָט, נעבעך, ניט געקאָנט פֿאַרטראָגן קיין בלוט. אַז יאַנקל די קוואָטשקע דערזעט עמעצן גיין, לויפֿט ער צו אים באַלד צו און הייבט אָן קוואָקען: „קאָאָ־קאָ! גיב מיר אַ קאָאָיפּיקע, וועל איך דיר לייגן אַן איי, קאָאָ־קאָ־קאָ!…‟ בשעתן קוואָקען, ציט יאַנקלען זיך אויס דער דאַרער האַלדז, די שמאָלע אַקסלען ווערן אים נאָך שמעלער, די אויגן פֿאַרשלייערן זיך מיט אַ דין מאַטעווע הײַטעלעטאַקע יאָ אַן אמתע קוואָטשקע. אַזוי וועט ער שוין קוואָקען און בעטלען, זיך ניט אָפּטשעפּען פֿון אײַך, ביז איר וועט אים ניט געבן דאָס, וואָס ער בעט. דעמאָלט הייבט ער ערשט אָן שפּרינגען פֿון פֿרייד און שרײַען: „איך האָב דיך אָפּגענאַרט! כבין ניט

          קיין הון, אַ האָן בין איך, כאַ־כאַ…‟ — און פֿאָכנדיק מיט ביידע הענט, קרייעט יאַנקל אויס אויפֿן גאַנצן גאָרגל: „קו־קו־ריקו!‟

          ווײַטער וועל איך זיך מיטן וועג אָפּשטעלן אַ ווײַלע לעבן בערל קאַצס פּאַריקמאַכערסקע. די גרויסע קרוםקײַלעכדיקע אותיות אויף דער ווײַסער פֿירעקיקער וויוועסקע האָבן זיך שוין ערטערווײַז אָפּגעקאַלופּעט, און פֿונעם גאַנצן וואָרטפּאַריקמאַכערסקעאיז, ווי אומיסטן, פֿאַרבליבן נאָר „…מאַכער…‟. די היגע לצים האָבן אַ סך ניט געדאַרפֿט: צוגעשטוקעוועט צו בערלס פֿאַמיליע דאָס איבערגעבליבענע אויף דער וויוועסקע, און אָט, נאַט אײַך אַ גרייטן צונאָמען: „קאַצמאַכער‟. ווי דען אַנדערשוווינען אין אַ שטעטל און ניט האָבן אַ צונאָמען?! אָט איז טאַקע מיט דעם בערל קאַצמאַכער געשען אַ געשיכטע, וואָס האָט געמאַכט אין שטעטל אַ גרויסע בהלה. מהאָט די סודותדיקע געשיכטע געקאָנט הערן אַ היפּשע צײַט אין יעדער שטוב, אין יעדער געסל, אין די קלייטלעך, אין מאַרק, אין באָד, אין אַלע פֿינף שילן, מיט וועלכע סאיז אַזוי רײַך דאָס קליינע שטעטעלע, און אַפֿילו אויפֿן ביתעולם. זי האָט זיך אַזוי לאַנג און גיך איבערגעגעבן פֿון מויל צו מויל, אַז די עדות פֿונעם געשעענעם, האָבן שוין אַליין געספֿקט, צי סאיז געווען אַזוי, ווי מע דערציילט, צי אַזוי, ווי זיי האָבן עס געזען. און אָנגעהויבן האָט זיך אַלץ דערפֿון, וואָס בערל קאַצמאַכער האָט זיך אין אַ טאָג צעקריגט

          מיט זײַן שותּף וועלוול לאָקש. וועלוול האָט טאַקע געטראָגן די פֿאַמיליע לאָקש, נאָר ניט אים ווײַזט מען אָן אויף דער טיר, און ניט אים לייגט מען אַרײַן אַ פֿינגער אין מויל. „געדענק זשע, בער, — האָט וועלוול אויסגעשריגן, שוין שטייענדיק אויף דער שוועל. — אַליין ביסטו אַ קאַץ, און שוואַרצע קעצעלעך וועלן זיך דיר חלומען!‟ און

          ער האָט אַ קלאַפּ געטאָן מיט דער טיר. אין אַ פּאָר טעג אַרום, פֿאַר נאַכט צו, האָבן זיך צו בערלען אין דער פּאַריקמאַכערסקע פּלוצעם אַרײַנגעשטעלט דרײַ מאָדנע פּאַרשוינען, אָנגעטאָן אין ווײַסע לאַנגע בגדים, עלעהיי דרײַ מתים אין די תּכריכים. די פּנימער, אויסגעשמירט מיט סאַזשע, האָבן בײַ זיי אַזוי געבלישטשעט, ווי עס בלישטשען ניט די כאָליעוועס בײַ אַ גענעראַל. אַ חוץ דעם מײַסטער, זײַנען אין דער פּאַריקמאַכערסקע געווען צוויי קליענטן: מאָטל דער שטריקלדרייער האָט געוואַרט,

          ביז סוועט זיך באַפֿרײַען דער שטול; דער אַנדערער קליענט, סראָל דער שמשׂ, איז אין דער צײַט אויף דער שטול געזעסן. דעם קאָפּ פֿאַרוואָרפֿן אויף אַהינטער, האָט ער געכאַפּט בעתן גאָלן אַ דרעמל. איין באַק האָט אים דער פּאַריקמאַכער שוין געהאַט אָפּגעראַזירט, די אַנדערעאיז נאָך געווען פֿיל אין מילינקעס. די דרײַ פּאַרשוינען האָבן זיך בײַ בערלען לאַנג ניט פֿאַרהאַלטן; זיי האָבן גיך אַרומגערינגלט דעם ניטטויטניט־לעבעדיקן פּאַריקמאַכער, איינער האָט בײַ אים תּיכּף צוגענומען דאָס גאָלמעסערל, דער צווייטעראַרומגעכאַפּט פֿון הינטן, ווי מע כאַפּט אַרום אַ פֿעסל מיט אַן אײַזערנער רייף, און דער דריטער האָט אָן אַן איבעריק וואָרט אויסגעוואַלגערט דאָס שמירבערשטעלע אינעם שאָלכל מיט זייף און אָנגעהויבן דערמיט אָנזייפֿן בערלען דעם קאָפּ. קיין גרויסע שעוועליור האָט דער פּאַריקמאַכער ניט פֿאַרמאָגט און דאָך, זײַנען די שיטערע שוואַרצע האָר זײַנע אויפֿן קאָפּ שטענדיק געווען צוגעקעמט מיט אַ גלײַכן שרונט און גוט אָנגעשמירט מיט בריליאַנטין. בערל האָט, נעבעך, ניט באַוויזן אַ פּינטל צו טאָן מיט אַן אויג, ווי יענער, וואָס האָט בײַ אים פֿריִער אַרויסגעכאַפּט דאָס גאָלמעסערל פֿון דער האַנט, האָט איינס־און־צוויי אַפּגעסמיטשיקט בערלס שיינע פֿריזור אַזוי ריין און גלאַט, אַז מהאָט שוין קיין שום בריליאַנטין ניט געדאַרפֿט האָבן. אין דער רעכטער מינוט, ווען דאָס שטיקל אַרבעט איז שוין געווען אָפּגעטאָן, האָט זיך אויפֿגעכאַפּט פֿון זײַן זיסן דרעמל דער ניט־דערגאָלטער שמשׂ. אַ רגע איז ער געזעסן,

          געקוקט אין שפּיגל מיט צוויי פֿאַרשלאָפֿענע אויגן, נאָך רעכט, אַפּנים, ניט פֿאַרשטייענדיק, צי דאָס אַלץ, וואָס ער זעט פֿאַר זיך, איז אַ חלום, צי סאיז שוין ניט קיין חלום. פּלוצעם האָט ער זיך אַ רײַס געטאָן פֿון דער שטול, און ווי ער איז געווען: מיטן שערערהאַנטעכל אַרום האַלדז, אַרויסגעלאָפֿן אין דרויסן. דער ניט־דערגאָלטער שמשׂ איז געלאָפֿן איבער די פֿינצטערע געסלעך און געשריגן אויף קוליקולות: „תּחית־המתים! תּחיתהמתים!‟ דער צווייטער קליענט, מאָטל דער שטריקלדרייער, וואָס איז ביז אַהער געזעסן אַ פּריטשמעליעטער אין אַ ווינקעלע, ניט געוווּסט, נעבעך, וווּהין זיך אַהינטאָן פֿאַר מורא, האָט אויך גענומען די פֿיס אין די הענט און געמאַכט די פּליטה.

          אויפֿן אַנדערן טאָג האָט דאָס גאַנצע שטעטל געקאָכט. יעדער האָט געקוקט אויפֿן געשעענעם מיט זײַנע אייגענע אויגן, אויסגעטײַטשט עס אויף זײַן אייגענעם אופֿן. נאָך לאַנגע וויכּוחים זײַנען די שטעטלדיקע חכמים געקומען סוף־כּל־סוף צו אַזאַ אויספֿיר: די דרײַ פּאַרשוינען זײַנען דרײַ מלאכים, וואָס האָבן זיך אַראָפּגעלאָזט אויף דער ערד, כּדי דורך בערל קאַצמאַכערס קאָפּ געבן צו וויסן דעם עולם, אַז אין גיכן וועט קומען משיח און, אַז מע דאַרף זיך קלײַבן אין וועג אַרײַן. יאָ, אַלץ האָט מען, דאַכט זיך, דערקלערט, נאָר איין זאַך האָט קיינער ניט געקאָנט פֿאַרדייען: פֿאַר וואָס האָבן די מלאכים געדאַרפֿט זיך פֿאַרשטעלן פֿאַר נעגערס? אַ מלאך אָבער בלײַבט אַ מלאך. סײַדן זיי זײַנען געווען פֿון די עטיאָפּער ייִדישע מלאכיםווער ווייסט, ווי ווײַט די געשיכטע וואָלט פֿאַרגאַנגען, ווען וועלוול לאָקש, זײַענדיק אַ קאַפּעלע מער בגילופֿין, כאַפּט זיך ניט אַרויס מיט אַ וואָרט, אַז דעם גלײַכן שרונט בערלס האָט ער אים שוין פֿאַרקײַלעכיקט אויפֿן גאַנצן קאָפּ. „קעצעלעך וועלן זיך אים חלומען, — האָט וועלוול זיך באַרימט פֿאַר אַ כאָפּטע חבֿרה, — שוואַרצע קעצעלעך!…‟

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          און די זון רירט זיך ניט פֿונעם אָרט. הענגט איבערן קאָפּ, גלײַך ווי מע וואָלט זי צוגעקלאַפּט צום הימל מיט טשוועקעס. ווען זשע וועט זיך שוין ווײַזן דאָס גרינע וועלדל? איך גיי און גיי, און דער וועג וועט, דאַכט זיך, קיין סוף ניט האָבן. עס פּײַניקט מיך דער דאָרשט. דער האַלדז ברענט, און די ברענעניש כאַפּט אַרום דאָס גאַנצע לײַב. איך גיי אויס נאָך אַ טרונק וואַסער!…

          דאָרט, ניט ווײַט פֿון בערל קאַצמאַכערס פּאַריקמאַכערסקע, כּמעט אין מיטן שטעטל, שטייט אונטער אַ צעצווײַגטן אַלטן נוסנבוים, אַן אַלטער ברונעם. כהאָב ניט איין מאָל געהערט פֿון מײַן מאַמען, אַז אַזאַ קאַלט, אַזאַ היילנדיק, אַזאַ כּישופֿדיק וואַסער ווי סאיז אין יענעם ברונעם, האָט זי מער אין איר לעבן ניט געטרונקען. אַרום דעם אַלטן ברונעם, האָט זיך, אייגנטלעך, אָנגעהויבן דאָס לעבן אין שטעטל. זינט דאָס שטעטל געדענקט זיך, געדענקט עס דעם אַלטן ברונעם. נאָך מײַן זיידע און מײַן זיידעס זיידע האָבן זיך געקוויקט מיט דעם זיסן וואַסער פֿון דעם דאָזיקן ברונעם. אין די נעכט, ווען איבערן שטעטל שווימט אַרויס דער נײַ־געבוירענער מולד, לויפֿן בשתּיקה צום ברונעם די כּלה־מיידלעך. מע קוקט אינעם ברונעם אַרײַן מיט אַ צאַפּלדיק האַרץאפֿשר איז דאָס, וואָס מע דערציילט וועגן דעם ברונעם ניט גלאַט באָבע־מעשׂיות, אפֿשר וועט זיך טאַקע ווײַזן דאָרט, אין דער שוואַרצער טיפֿעניש, דאָס פּנים פֿונעם באַשערטן? ווער האָט דעם ברונעם אויסגעגראָבן און ווער האָט פֿאַרפֿלאַנצט דאָ דעם נוסנבוים, געדענקט שוין אין שטעטל קיינער ניט, אַפֿילו די באָבע לאה ניט. זי איז שוין אַזוי אַלט און חרובֿ, אַז די אוראייניקלעך טראָגן זי אַרויס אין דרויסן אויף די הענט, ווי אַ שוואַרץ ליאַלקעלע. מע זעצט זי אַוועק לעבן דער שטוב אויף דער פּריזבע, און דאָ זיצט זי שוין אָפּ כּמעט דעם גאַנצן טאָג. הוידעט זיך שטילערהייט, גלײַך ווי זי וואָלט זיך אַליין געוואָלט אײַנוויגן. אַ קליינטשיקע, אײַנגעשרומפּענע ייִדענע, דערמאָנט זי דאָס שוואַרצע קלומעקל אירס, מיט וועלכן זי פֿלעגט גיין צו די קימפּעטאָרינס. די אַלטע לאה איז, דאַכט זיך, די באָבע פֿונעם גאַנצן שטעטל. וויפֿל קינדער האָט זי אָפּגענומען אין איר לאַנג לעבן? אויסגעבאָדן זיי אינעם וואַסער פֿונעם אַלטן ברונעם און געבענטשט דערנאָך יעדעס ערשט געבוירן נפֿשל אויף אַ גליקלעך לעבן ביז הונדערט און צוואַנציק יאָר. און וויפֿל מעשׂהלעך האָט זי געקענט?! ווי כּלערליי פֿייגעלעך, זײַנען אירע מעשׂהלעך זיך צעפֿלויגן איבערן שטעטל און זיך געמאַכט אַ נעסט אין די קינדערשע נשמות. וויפֿל קינדער אין שטעטלאַזוי פֿיל מעשׂהלעך האָט זי געהאַט. וועגן דעם אַלטן ברונעם האָט די באָבע לאה אַ באַזונדער מעשׂהלע. מײַן מאַמע האָט עס מיר הונדערט מאָל דערציילט. ווען עס שטאַרבט אין שטעטל אַן ערלעכער ייִד, לאָזט זײַן נשמה זיך אַראָפּ אין די טיפֿעטיפֿענישן פֿונעם ברונעם. דאָרט, אויפֿן סאַמע דנאָ, הייבט זיך אָן דער וועג, וואָס ברענגט די נשמה צו פֿירן צום זיבעטן הימל. נאָר איידער זי הייבט זיך אַזוי הויך אויף, באָדט די נשמה זיך אויס אין טויזנטער

          קוואַלן און אין טויזנטער וואַסערן. זי רייניקט זיך אָפּ פֿון אַלע ערדישע זינד און עבֿירות, און ערשט נאָך דעם שווימט זי אַרויס אויפֿן הימל און שײַנט דאָרט בײַגלײַך מיט אַנדערע שטערן, ווי אַ שיינע כּלה אונטער דער חופּה.

          *

          איך דאַרף, איך מוז גיין ווײַטער! איך וויל זען דער מאַמעס שטעטעלע מיט מײַנע אייגענע אויגן. אויסהערן דער באָבע לאהס אַלע מעשׂיות. אַ טרונק טאָן דאָס היילנדיקע וואַסער פֿונעם אַלטן ברונעם. איך וועל באַלד געזונט ווערן, פֿון איין טרונק, און קיין שוםמאָפּעראַציעס וועט מען מיר ניט דאַרפֿן מאַכן!

          מיט די לעצטע כּוחות האָב איך זיך סוף־כּל־סוף אַרויפֿגעדראַפּעט אויפֿן באַרג. און אָט איז עס, דאָס קיל־מחיהדיקע וועלדלאַזוי נאָענט, אַז שטרעק אויס די האַנט און דו וועסט אַ שויבער טאָן די גרינע קרוינען פֿון די ביימער. איך הער שוין זייער רוישן. איך פֿיל אַפֿילו זייער פֿרישקייט אויף מײַן פּנים. איך בין געקומען. איך שטיי דאָ, ניט ווײַט פֿון דעם געגאַרטן ווינקעלע, וווּ סהאָט זיך אָנגעהויבן מײַן מאַמעס לעבןדאָס שטעטל אַליין זע איך נאָך דערווײַל ניטדאָס וועלדל פֿאַרשטעלט עס מיר. נאָר דאָס לײַכט־דורכזיכטיקע רויכל, וואָס קנוילט זיך פֿון הינטער די ביימער און, עלעהיי אַ פֿאָדעם, בינדט עס צו דאָס שטעטעלע צום הימל און דעם הימל צום שטעטעלע, דאָס פֿיאַלעט־רויכל איז ווי אַן ערשטער גרוס פֿון מײַן זיידן. דער זיידע מײַנער איז אַ הרובע־מאַכער. כּמעט אין יעדער שטוב פֿונעם שטעטל שטייט זײַן הרובע. דעם זיידן מיט דער באָבען האָב איך אין מײַן לעבן ניט געזען. און זיי האָבן מיך אַוודאי און אַוודאי ניט געזען. כוועל זיי אָבער סײַ ווי סײַ באַלד דערקענען. די מאַמע האָט מיר וועגן זיי אַזוי פֿיל אָנגעדערציילט, אַז כזע זיי ממש פֿאַר די אויגן. יאָ, עס קאָן זיך אָבער טרעפֿן, אַז דער זיידע מיט דער באָבען וועלן מיך ניט דערקענען. ניין. כגלייב ניט. אַן אייגן אייניקל דערקענט מען אויפֿן ערשטן קוק! דערצו, זאָגט מען, אַז די מאַמע איז זייער געראָטן אין מיר. אין מיר וועלן זיי דערקענען די מאַמע. איך שטעל זיך שוין פֿאָר, ווי זיי וועלן זיך דערפֿרייען. די באָבע וועט אָנבאַקן אַ גאַנצע טאָווע קנישעס מיט קאַבאַק. דערנאָך וועלן מיר זיצן אַלע דרײַ בײַם טיש: די באָבע מיטן זיידן, פֿון איין זײַט טיש, און איךפֿון דער אַנדערער זײַט, אַנטקעגן זיי. איך וועל קײַען די געשמאַקע קנישעס מיט קאַבאַק, און דער זיידע מיט דער באָבען וועלן קוקן אויף מיר און אָנקוועלן: אַזאַ גאַסט! אַזאַ אומגעריכטע פֿרייד! אַזאַ יום־טובֿ אין מיטן דער וואָך!..

          פּלוצעם האָבן זיך דערהערט פֿונעם שטעטל קוויטשערײַען. וואָס איז דאָרט געשען? שוין זשע האָבן זיך אַלע ווײַבער מיט אַ מאָל צעקריגט צווישן זיך? און אפֿשר האָבן זיך אינעם שטעטל געיאַוועט אַ פּאָר נײַע מלאכים? דאָס היימישע רויכל פֿון מײַן באָבעס זומערדיקער פּליטע האָט פּאַמעלעך אָנגעהויבן זיך צעוואַקסן, געוואָרן אַ געדיכטער שוואַרצער רויך, וואָס האָט זיך גיך געשפּרייט איבערן הימל, זשעדנע געפֿרעסן די שײַן פֿונעם טאָג. די זון איז ווי בלינד געוואָרן.

          אַן אײַנגעהילטער אין דער פּלוצעמדיקער פֿינצטערניש, בין איך געשטאַנען אַ דערשיטערטער אויבן אויפֿן באַרג, ניט בכּוח צו מאַכן אַ שפּאַן. די געשרייען האָבן זיך שוין געטראָגן פֿונעם וועלדל, וואָס האָט ערשט אַזוי פֿרידלעך גערוישט מיט זײַנע שיינע קרוינען, זיך צונויפֿגעגאָסן אין אַ יאָמערלעכן געוויין. הונדערטער ברײַנעס האָבן, דאַכט זיך, באַוויינט דאָרט און באַקלאָגט זייער איין און איינציק הערשעלעדערנאָך האָט מען אָנגעהויבן שיסן. און וואָס מער מהאָט געשאָסן, אַלץ שטילער און שטילער זײַנען געוואָרן די קוויטשערײַעןסאיז געקומען אַ רגע, ווען אין דער שוואַרצער פֿאַריתומטער שטילקייט האָבן געוויינט נאָר די ביימער.

          ווי צוויי טיילן פֿון אַ טרויעריקן פֿאָרהאַנג, האָט זיך די פֿינצטערניש צערוקט. פֿונעם פֿאַררייכערטן וועלדל האָט זיך באַוויזן אַ מענטש. שאָקלענדיק זיך און האַלטנדיק זיך מיט ביידע הענט פֿאַרן קאָפּ, איז ער געלאָפֿן צום באַרג. געלאָפֿן און געשריגן: „מהאָט זיי אַלע אויסגעקוילעט! אַלע הענער, הינער און הינדעלעך!‟ — דער מענטש האָט אַ פֿיר געטאָן מיט דער האַנט איבער זײַן גאָרגל, געבליבן אַ רגע שטיין און זיך אַ וואַלגער געטאָן אויף דער ערד.

          איך בין צו אים צוגעלאָפֿן.

          יאַנקל די קוואָטשקע איז נאַזנדיק געלעגן אויפֿן וועג מיט אָפֿענע אַפּלען. דער הויקער זײַנער האָט אַרויסגעשטאַרצט פֿון הינטערן רעכטן אַקסל, ווי ער וואָלט געפֿאַלן אויף אַ שטיין. דאָס געלע בערדל האָט זיך אים פֿאַרריסן אַרויף און סהאָט זיך געדאַכט, אַז דער גאַנצער הימל האַלט זיך אַצינד אויפֿן שפּיץ פֿון זײַן בערדל.

          די פֿיס האָבן בײַ מיר זיך אונטערגעהאַקט. אַ דערשלאָגענער, בין איך אַ פֿאַל געטאָן אויף די קני לעבן יאַנקלס קערפּער. כהאָב אָנגעהויבן שטילערהייט צו כליפּען: „וואָס זשע ליגסטו, יאַנקל? פֿאַר וואָס קוואָקעסטו ניט?.. קוק, כהאָב דיר געבראַכט אַ קאָפּיקע. כהאָב זי געפֿונען אונטער דער שאַפֿע, כהאָב מיט איר געוואָלט קויפֿן זיך אַ גלאָז גאַזיראָווקע. כגיב אָבער די קאָפּיקע דיר, אַבי שווײַג ניט, יאַנקלזאָג כאָטש אַ וואָרט…‟ איך האָב שטיל געווויעט, ווי אַן אומבאַהאָלפֿן חיהלע, וואָס האָט פֿאַרלוירן די מוטער. איך האָב זיך געפֿילט אַן אָפּגענאַרטער, גלײַך ווי מע וואָלט מיר לאַנג צוגעזאָגט עפּעס ווײַזן, און ערשט נאָך אַלעמען, דעםעפּעסניט געוויזן. נאָך מער: מהאָט מיך באַגנבֿעט. מהאָט בײַ מיר צוגעגנבֿעט דאָס איינציקע, וואָס כהאָב פֿאַרמאָגטדעם שענסטן חלום מײַנעםזען מיט מײַנע אייגענע אויגן דער מאַמעס שטעטעלע. שפּעט. צו שפּעט.

          אַליין ניט פֿאַרשטייענדיק פֿאַר וואָס, האָב איך ברייט אויסגעשטרעקט די אָרעמס צום הימלאַזוי, ווי עס האָבן געטאָן הונדערטער דורות פֿאַר מיר און ווי עס וועלן מסתּמא טאָן הונדערטער דורות נאָך מיר. עס האָט זיך פֿון מײַן האַרצן אַרויסגעריסן אַ געזאַנגאַ ליכטיקער און אַ קלאָרער, ווי יענע שטערן, וואָס האָבן דורכגעמאַכט דעם גאַנצן וועג פֿונעם דנאָ פֿונעם אַלטן ברונעם אונטערן אַלטן נוסנבוים ביזן הימל. דער געזאַנג איז געבוירן געוואָרן אין יענע הייליקע נפֿשות, און איך האָב אים בלויז אַרויסגעבראַכט אויף די ליפּן מיט מײַן קינדערשן קולכל. איך בין נאָר געווען דער שופֿר, וואָס האָט זיך געלאָזט הערן אין דער פּוסטגעוואָרענער וועלט. אַלע צרות און אַלע נסיונות, וועלכע זײַנען אויסגעפֿאַלן אויף די פֿאַרגאַנגענע דורות, האָבן איצט געפֿונען אַן אויסוועג אינעם טרויעריק־דערהויבענעם קדיש. אויף דער העכסטער נאָטע, ווען מײַן נשמה און לײַב האָבן זיך צונויפֿגעשמאָלצן מיטן גאַנצן אַרום און געשוועבט ערגעץ העט־העט אויבן, האָט פּלוצעם אַ פֿרעמד פֿאַלש קול אונטערגעשניטן די פֿליגל פֿונעם געזאַנג. אַ קורצע ווײַלע זײַנען די קלאַנגען נאָך געהאָנגען אין דער לופֿטן צווישן ערד און הימל און זיך צעשאָטן, ווי אַ שנירל קרעלן.

          כהאָב אַראָפּגעלאָזט דעם קאָפּ. מיטן בליק האָב איך זיך אָנגעשטויסן אין אַ צאַפּענער מאָרדע, אינגאַנצן אַן אויסגעשמירטע מיט אַש. דער צאַפּ איז געשטאַנען אויפֿן זעלבן אָרט, וווּ סאיז ערשט־אָ געלעגן יאַנקל די קוואָטשקע. דער שפּיץ פֿונעם צאַפּן־בערדל איז געווען אָפּגעברענט, די פֿאַרשׂרפֿעטע זײַטן האָבן אויסגעזען אויף דער ווײַסער פֿעל, ווי שוואַרצע לאַטעס אויף תּכריכים.

          מע־עע… — האָט נאָך אַמאָל אַ מעקע געטאָן דער צאַפּ און, דראָענדיק געוויזן מיר די פֿאַרדרייטע שפּיציקע הערנער.

          אויף איין האָרן האָט געשטעקט יאַנקלס פֿאַרשמאַָלצענע יאַרמלקע

          סאיז אויף מיר אָנגעפֿאַלן אַ פּחד. פֿון וואַנען האָט זיך דאָ פּלוצעם גענומען דער צאַפּ? וווּהין האָט זיך אַהינגעטאָן דער טויטער יאַנקל?.. כהאָב זיך אַ לאָז געטאָן מיטן זעלבן וועג צוריק אַהיים. כבין שוין געלאָפֿן באַרג־אַרויף, און דער צעווילדעוועטער צאַפּ איז געלאָפֿן נאָך מיר. אָט־אָט וועט ער מיך דעריאָגן. אָט וועט ער מיך אַ בוצקע טאָן. כהאָב שוין אַפֿילו געפֿילט, ווי עס בײַסט מיר יענץ אָרט, וווּהין ער וועט מיר באַלד אַרײַנפֿאָרן מיט זײַנע שאַרפֿע הערנער. אויבן אויפֿן באַרג האָט מיך דער צאַפּ סוף־כּלסוף אָנגעיאָגט און אָפּגעטאָן זײַן בייז שטיקל אַרבעט.

          כהאָב זיך געקוליעט באַרג־אַראָפּ אַלץ גיכער און גיכער. כהאָב שוין ניט געוווּסט, וווּ דער הימל איז און וווּ איז די ערדזיי האָבן זיך צונויפֿגעוויקלט אין אַ בלאָ־גרינעם טעפּעך. כהאָב פֿאַרמאַכט די אויגןמע דאַרף עפּעס טאָן! נאָך אַ רגע און קיין זכר וועט נאָך מיר ניט בלײַבן! שוין בעסער וואָלט געווען, ווען איך בלײַב אין דער היים, זיך לאָזן גרייטן מיך צו דער אָפּעראַציעמאַמע, מאַמע, וווּ ביסטו, מאַ־מעעע?!

          כבין דאָ, מײַן קינד! לעבן דיר, ווי תּמיד.

          איך האָב שווער אויפֿגעמאַכט די אויגן. דער קאָפּ האָט זיך מיר געדרייט, די פֿיס גענאָגט, ווי נאָך אַ לאַנגער נסיעה. די קראַנקע וויזיעס זײַנען פּאַמעלעך אָפּגעטראָטן, זיך דערווײַטערט פֿון מיר, אַוועק אין דער שווערער נאַכט אַרײַן, אינעם עבֿר. דאָס איצטיקע, דאָס ממשותדיקע האָט זיך שוין קלאָרער אָנגעצייכנט אין דער שײַן פֿונעם געקומענעם טאָג.

          די מאַמע, אַ מידע און אַן אויסגעמאַטערטע מיט אַ בלויקייט אונטער די אויגן, איז געזעסן לעבן מיר, געהאַלטן מײַן האַנט אין איר האַנט, גלײַך ווי מיר וואָלטן זיך אויף קיין רגע ניט צעשיידט. די זונשטראַלן האָבן זיך דורכגעשלאָגן דורך די טאַפֿליעס, זיך פֿאַרפּלאָנטערט אין אירע שוואַרצע צעשויבערטע האָר אויפֿן קאָפּ, איבערגעפֿאַרבט זיי אין דער פֿאַרב פֿון טאָג.

          די מאַמע האָט זיך צו מיר אָנגעבויגן, צוגעלייגט אירע וואַרעמע ליפּן צו מײַן שטערן און הייזעריקלעך געזאָגט:

          דאַנקען גאָט, די היץ איז געפֿאַלן.

          אַ ווײַלע האָט זי זיך אײַנגעקוקט אין מײַנע אויגן און מיט אַ זיפֿץ, גלײַך ווי זי וואָלט אונטערגעצויגן אַ סךהכּל צו אַלע מײַנע קראַנקע חלומות, אַרויסגעבראַכט אויף די ליפּן:

          אַלץ וועט, מירטשעם, זײַן גוט, מײַן קינד

          און פֿון דעם היילנדיקן צורירן זיך צו מײַן שטערן, דאָס פֿילן אויף מײַן פּנים איר לעבעדיקן אָטעם, דעם אַלץ־פֿאַרשטייענדיקן בליק איז מיר מיט אַ מאָל געוואָרן גרינג און רויִק אויפֿן האַרצן, עלעהיי כוואָלט אַ טרונק געטאָן דאָס וואַסער פֿונעם אַלטן ברונעם אונטערן אַלטן נוסנבוים.

          Boris Sandler (1950, Bălți, Moldova) was a classically trained violinist who left his position in the Moldovan State Orchestra to begin an unlikely career as a Yiddish writer. His first collection of fiction, Stairway to a Miracle (1986), appeared in Moscow to great acclaim. After moving to New York in 1998, he served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Yiddish Forward until 2016. The author of more than a dozen volumes of fiction and poetry in Yiddish, Sandler has seen his work translated into English, Hebrew, Russian, German, and Romanian. The most highly acclaimed Yiddish writer of his generation, Sandler has received every major Yiddish literary prize, including the Jacob Fichman Prize (2002), the Dovid Hofshtein Prize, awarded by the Yiddish Writer’s Union in Israel (2005), and the J. I. Segal Prize from the Jewish Public Library of Montreal for the best new work of Yiddish literature (2010 and 2014).

          Planedenn paotr e bluenn by Mich Beyer

          Planedenn paotr e bluenn by Mich Beyer

          Trede lodenn

          D’ar Gwener 1añ a viz Here 1920

          Miz hanter zo aet hebiou hep na zigorfen ma c’haier. Chomet e skourr danevell ma devezhioù kentañ er skol. Bremañ diouzhtu e fell din, a-raok mont pelloc’h ganti, lakaat da gentañ war ar paper an darvoudoù o doa miret ouzhin da gontañ hiroc’h. Lakaat war ar paper, ya, kousto pe gousto e rin, a bennadoù berr moarvat, rak e-kerzh ar sizhunvezhioù tremenet on bet klañvaet rust hag em eus kollet kazi ma holl nerzh. Hiziv evit ar wech kentañ en em santan gwellaet ha ne gren ket mui kement ar Waterman etre ma bizied. Klaskomp mont war-raok eta, ha gwelet e vo…

          An devezh-se, an 12 a viz Eost a oa, goude koan, e oan en em staliet ouzh ma zaol nevez, startijenn ganin, o ragempentiñ ar blijadur am befe da gontañ avantur ma c’hentañ devezhiadoù skol. Eñvoriñ an darvoudoù, bihan pe vras, reiñ buhez endro da santadurioù mesket ar mousig a oa bet ac’hanon, etre aon ha mall, deskrivañ pizh ha munut ar sal c’hlas, ar porzh, ar mestr-skol en e flotantenn liv al ludu, ar voused all kenoad ganin paket en o zavañjerioù, tavañjerioù nevez-flamm pe evit kalzik anezho traoù kozh bet takonet gant ar mammoù, ken abafet ha me oc’h ober anaoudegezh gant ar bed nevez se, stlak ar sokoù war plañchod ar sal c’hlas… Ya, un avantur, ha nag a draoù da gontañ!

          O skrivañ edon neuze, ha me duet buan hag aes un hanterzousennad linennoù, pa’m boa klevet trouzioù digustum en tu all d’ar speurenn a zisparti ma rouantelezh diouzh hini Eujen Dagorn. War evezh e oan bet lakaet kerkent. N’eo ket Eujen paotr da blantañ reuz, siouloc’h egetañ ne vije ket kavet unan er sana en e bezh. Ha d’an eur diwezhat-se ouzhpenn! Un abeg all, sonnoc’h siwazh, a oa da’m nec’hamant: abaoe un toullad mat a zevezhioù e oa dalc’het Eujen en e gambr. Ne veze mui morse war ar pondalez-diavaez. Anv ebet da vont d’e weladenniñ, ha pa’m boa klasket tennañ amann eus gouzoug ar Gebenn ne’m boa bet evel-just nemet ur respont dister ha didalvoud. Evit lavarout splannoc’h an traoù e oan bet kaset rust da strakal brulu. Netra souezhus, ne rae ar Gebenn nemet sentiñ d’ar reolenn, Reolenn sakr an Tav, hag ouzhpenn-se e oan sur ne oa ket bet lonket ganti disoc’h afer an taolioù. Ranket em boa menel gant ma nec’hamant ha ma dic’houzvez…

          Oc’h astenn ma skouarn edon, ma stilo er vann, hep krediñ ober ur fiñv. Tud o pilpazañ, mouezhioù hantervouget… Skoet e voe ouzh ma dor. Ne’m boa ket bet amzer da lavarout dont tre ma oa Blanchet o tamzigeriñ ha, diwar an treuzoù:

          “Eliaz ma faotr, dav eo deoc’h dont ganin. Eujen, hoc’h amezeg, a zo en e angoni.”

          Ha dre ma chomen hep grik ebet, digor ma genoù war nav eur gant an digompren:

          “Ma c’hlevet ho peus, Eliaz? War e dremenvan emañ ho kamalad. Ne gav ket deomp e welo gouloù-deiz.”

          “Met, Aotrou Blanchet, am boa satouilhet, petra a c’hellan-me… eus ur beleg eo en deus ezhomm kredapl, hag eus ar Sakramant! Kristen eo Eujen!”

          “Ar wirionez ganeoc’h, Eliaz. Hag ar person zo bet, gant e vasikod. Graet o deus kement o doa d’ober, na rit ket biloù evit se. Met bremañ eo c’hwi hag a zo gortozet ouzh troad e wele. C’hwi ha den ebet all. Deuit diouzhtu war ma lerc’h, me ho ped.”

          Me ho ped? Ur bedadenn ne oa ket. Ur gourc’hemenn ’ni ’oa. Eus ar seurt na droer ket hebiou dezhañ, ha pa vefe ho tivesker stag da grenañ hag ho kalon o pennfolliñ en ho pruched.

          *

          D’ar Sadorn 2 a viz Here 1920, da noz

          Blanchet en doa damzigoret an nor, taolet ur sell diwar an treuzoù.

          “Aet eo an infirmiourezed. En e-unan emañ. Bez’ e c’hellit mont.”

          Ha serriñ an nor war ma lerc’h. War enaou e oa bet lezet ar gouloù-lein met paket e oa bet tro an tog-kleuzeur porselen gant ul lienenn danav a skañvae rusted ar gouloù. Digredusat tra, desachet e oa bet ma selloù da gentañ war-zu ar prenestr hag an nor werennet a sko war ar pondalez-diavaez. Digorfrank o-daou. Ar stered diniver o strinkellikat en oabl boull. Daoust d’an eur diwezhat e oa chomet klouar an amzer hag un avelig en em sile er gambr, evel ur flouradenn guñv. Pezh ne vire ket ouzhin a gridienniñ.

          “Mard eo yen deoc’h, Eliaz, lakait war ho tivskoaz ar pallenn a zo e traoñ ma gwele, met, mar plij ganeoc’h, lezitme da glevout frondoù ar bed-mañ… evit ar wech diwezhañ. Sellit ’ta, pegen boull eo an noz!”

          E vouezh, ma Doue! Ur skrij he c’hlevout. Daoust hag Eujen Dagorn e oa an hini a oa o paouez gervel warnon gant ar vouezh-se hag a denne d’ur ronkell skiltr, da ronkoù diwezhañ an angoni?

          Ur momedig a zilavar. Kollet e oan. Ne ouien ket petra lavarout, ne ouien ket hag un dra bennak a oa da lavarout, ne ouien ket penaos en em zerc’hel, ne ouien ket petra ober eus ma c’horf, par d’ur pav-kaol skornet en em santen. Daoust ma oan bet abaoe pell kustumet d’ar marv, brezel ha kleñved o rodal hogos dizehan tro-dro din, e oa chomet un dra difetis evidon. Biskoazh ne oan en em gavet evit gwir e-tal unan war-nes tremen. Ha gwashat tra, galvet hag em unanpenn gantañ! Piv e oan ’ta evit bezañ lakaet da ambrouger diwezhañ?

          “Deuit ’ta en ho koazez em c’hichen. Chomet eo kador ar beleg.”

          Pleget em boa neuze. Ha sellet outañ. Hanter-azezet hanter-c’hourvezet edo Eujen, daou c’houbenner a oa bet lakaet dezhañ da harpañ e gein hag e benn. Morlivet e oa e vuzelloù hag e vizaj, war-bouez daou dakad ruz-tan war e zivjod kleuz. Sanket don e zaoulagad du-bran en o foull, skeudoù divalav liv ar glaou dindano. Dindan ar pallenn hag al liñsel, a-vec’h ma c’hellen damwelout stumm e gorf, ken kastizet e oa. Ne c’hellen ket dispegañ ma selloù diouzh fiñv al liñsel o luskañ stroñs dizingal e alanadennoù. Pa soñjan bremañ, miz hanter goude e varv, e teu ur goulenn war ma spered, ur goulenn skrijus: daoust ha bet e oan d’ar poent-se o trueziñ da’m faourkaezh kamalad war e dalaroù, peotramant e oan bet o rakwelet ma finvezh-me, ma finvezh douetus?

          “Diouzh ar pouez ne dalvezfe ket daou wenneg-toull ar marc’h treut-askorn on deuet da vezañ, hañ? Met ne vern, rak n’eo ket hent ar foar emaon o toullañ… Na druezit ket din, Eliaz, ne c’houzañvjen ket… Goût ’rit perak em eus goulennet war ho lerc’h?”

          “Ne ran ket. Lârit din, Eujen. Ma c’hellan ober un dra bennak…”

          “Hag e c’hellit. Rannañ kaoz ganeoc’h am bije karet ober, dres evel a raemp hon-daou war ar pondalez aze… un dudi e veze din. Pezh zo, ken dinerzhet on… echu ha peurechu ganin mare an tabutoù… An aer a vank din… O vougañ emaon… Kement ger a daolan zo un drast din. Deoc’h-c’hwi e vo da derriñ an didrouz… Me ’garfe…”

          “Ya? Lârit, nebaon.”

          “Me ’garfe… Me ’garfe… Soñj peus dalc’het eus an deiz m’ho poa dibunet kement a draoù din a-zivout ho puhez bet? Ur gwir gofesadenn e oa bet, ma permetit d’ar beleg manket ac’hanon goapaat ur wech diwezhañ…. Me ’garfe… n’eo ket aes din lavarout… Me ’garfe selaou adarre istor Gabriel Gwiader. Ya, gwel’ ’rit, ne’m eus ket ankouaet e anv. Vad, mil vad a rafe din.

          Skodeget-mik e oan. Divarc’het a-grenn. Ne oan ket evit krediñ. Na ne gomprenen ket abeg e c’houlenn. Ken dic’hortoz ar goulenn-se, ken stroñsus ivez, ma’z on manet mut, evel seizet. Ar wech kentañ ma’m boa kontet an traoùse dezhañ, tri miz a oa, e oa bet hogozik daoust din, pe reishoc’h lavaret, tost dic’houzvez din. Ken bras ezhomm am boa da zisammañ! Biskoazh ne’m boa bet betek-henn kavet nag ar galon d’en ober, na muioc’h ur skouarn prest da’m selaou. Hag Eujen, par d’un achanter madelezhus, en doa kavet an tu da zibrennañ ar skluz. Ne’m boa ket gellet mont hebiou. Ar froud a oa aet, groñs ha dishual. Evit kelo ha daoust d’an disamm a oa bet war an taol, ne oa ket pare ar gleizhenn a loske ma askre. Ar c’holl eus ma mignon a vanfe bev ha doanius da viken ennon. Gant se, en desped din bezañ bet dozvet mui pe vui ar soñj da fiziañ an darvoudoù-se em c’harnedoù, un dro bennak, ne oan ket sur da gaout nerzh a-walc’h d’en ober, ne baouezen ket a glask tro, dre gontañ a bep seurt eñvorennoù all, skañvoc’h, eus ar seurt a saourer hep skuizhañ. Betek ar raktres pirc’hirinaj d’e vro, daoust ha ne oa ket un hunvre, traken, un hunvre tonket da chom hep bezañ sevenet biken, dre ziouer a youl wirion? Marteze, met Eujen Dagorn a oa war e dremenvan, ha me tal-ha-tal gantañ… Ne vez ket dinac’het ober lavaroù diwezhañ an nen. Nann, ne vez ket graet. Kompren pe digompren ne vern, aes pe doanius-holl ne vern, ret eo mont.

          “Ne lavarit netra, Eliaz? Ya, sebezus eo ma goulenn, a ouzon, dizereat-kenañ zoken. Ha mil doanius deoc’h, a ouzon ivez. Vad a rafe din, am eus lavaret, ya. Mil vad a rafe din klevout c’hoazh istor ar paotr kadarn-se, aet sonn e gein hag hep tortal davit dibenn e vuhez. Un tamm kalon am eus ezhomm d’an ampoent-mañ, kompren a rit? Skouer un ene divrall a sikourfe din d’ober ma zremen… Bennozh ar person hag an nouenn ne reont ket tout, pell a se, pell a se… Nag ar feiz, siwazh!

          En em welout a ran, e-giz pa vijen c’hoazh er gambr gantañ: ur sell diwezhañ ouzh Eujen, ur sell a-gorn, abafet, ouzh e zaoulagad aspedus o skediñ gant an derzhienn. Desachañ a ran ar gador tostoc’h ouzh ar gwele. Ur sell c’hoazh war-zu ar stered, ar stered a garan kement, e-giz posupl e c’helljent reiñ nerzh din. Pleget ma c’hein, ma daouilin harp ouzh ma divorzhed, ma daouarn o souten ma fenn. En em glevout a ran ivez: ma mouezh o krenañ, raouliet, o teukañ ouzh ar gerioù kentañ…

          “Soñj ho peus, Eujen, kontet em boa deoc’h pegen tost e oamp deuet da vezañ, Gabriel ha me, e-pad hor bloavezhiadoù studi. Diabarzhidi e oamp ha dre se e oamp dispartiet diouzh hor familh, pe da vihanañ e vezemp aliesoc’h en hor ser eget na vezemp e ser hor c’herent nes. Evit pezh ’oa hor c’henskolidi, e gwir pe e gaou ne gavemp ket o darempred gwall zedennus. Evito da vezañ holl mui pe vui kenoad ganeomp e lakaemp anezho da grennarded diechu, speredoù pout, droch ha dizudi… Brabañserezh lu eus hor perzh moarvat, met evel-se e oa, kilheien yaouank e oamp-ni ivez, petra ’reot! Kresket ha donaet ar vignoniezh etrezomp a-feur ma’z ae an amzer. Estreget war an amzer skol en em welemp. Ur wechig ar mare, Gabriel a rente bizit din dumañ, ha me, aliesoc’h a rankan lavarout, a yae da Derrug. Un dudi e veze din an devezhiadoù-se. Gant Yann-Vari Gwiader dreist-holl en em santen em aez. A-fed mennozhioù ne oa ket gwall zisheñvel diouzh ma zad, met pelloc’h e oa aet en e breder, a gave din. Pe marteze, o vezañ ma oa brasoc’h ha klokoc’h e zeskamant, e ouie, dre e vicher paneveken, displegañ fraeshoc’h e vennozhioù. Tad a embanne, Yann-Vari a zisplege. Bezet pe vezet e oa kreñv-eston e levezon war ma spered paotr yaouank. Evel spoueennoù eo spered ar yaouankizoù, ne c’houlennont ’met bezañ intret, ha Gabriel koulz ha me a saoure kentelioù Yann-Vari evel un died startijennus… Goude marv Gabriel… O! Ket diouzhtu, met tamm-ha-tamm, ez eo en em silet em spered ar goulenn trubuilhus-mañ: daoust ha muzuliet en doa Yann-Vari pegen pell, pegen don, e c’hellfe speredoù ar baotred yaouank a oa ac’hanomp bezañ levezonet gant e brezegennoù peoc’hgarour aheurtet? Daoust ha soñjet en doa pegen dibleg ha divrall e teufe e vab da vezañ? Anat deoc’h, Eujen, biskoazh ne’m eus bet kalon da sevel ar goulenn outañ.

          “Erru e oa dibenn hor bloavezh staj. Miz Gouere 14 a oa, ha gantañ brudoù brezel o tedostaat, o kemer muioc’hmui liv un dazont teñval lakaet d’erruout, abred kentoc’h eget diwezhat. En desped da se, pe abalamour da se, e oamp mennet da seveniñ hor raktres troiad war velo. Echu da vat hor studioù, hor bloavezh staj, ha neuze echu prantad chañsus ar goursez, erru e oamp en oad d’ober hor c’hoñje. Brezel pe beoc’h a ve, gant al lezennoù nevez e oa dirazomp tri bloavezh pell diouzh ar gêr, pell diouzh ar vro. Tri bloavezh disparti. Ne oa ket anv neuze da zilezel hor raktres. D’an 22 hor boa lakaet deiz al loc’hañ. Savet e oamp war hor marc’hoù-houarn e Kledenn, leun-tarzh hor seier-kein, ken karget all ar sakochennoù bet prenet nebeudik a-raok, ha biskoazh ne zellezas dougoù-samm o anv evel hor re. Pa oa bet treset pep tennad gant skoazell ar c’hartennoù-hent e oamp bet difur a-walc’h evit chom hep soñjal hor befe da zougen ken pounner a samm. Ma, bezet pe vezet e oamp bet feal a-walc’h d’hon divizoù. E-tro hanter-kant kilometr bemdez. Kledenn, Lokorn, Ploudiern hag ar Menez-C’homm, Argol, ar Faou… Ne rin ket deoc’h danevell hon tennadoù dre ar munud, a-walc’h e vo deoc’h gouzout ne oa nemet braventez e pep lec’h. Esmae, estlamm ha sabatur, sed aze petra e oa roll hor meuzioù bemdez. Eno, er Faou, hor boa kemeret bag an treizhour da gaout Daoulaz ha Logonna.

          “Koulz ha me, Eujen, e ouezit n’eo ket gwall baot an tennadoù hent plaen en hor bro! Dre forzh krapañ-digrapañ e oa krog ar pistig daonet e diaz ma skevent da’m hegaziñ muioc’h-mui. Daoust ma raemp kalzik a arsavioù evit arvestiñ ouzh kened ar vro, ouzh an ilizoù ha chapelioù, ouzh kement hensavadur a oa war-dro hon hent, ouzh ar maezioù ken kaer, kel liesseurt, daoust ma talveze deomp pep predig merenn kement hag ur prantad diskuizh deuet mat, e c’houzañven, gwashoc’h-gwashañ. Lies gwech en em gave Gabriel pellik dirazon hag e ranke chom da’m gortoz. Kaer ’m boa kuzhat, pe klask kuzhat, en doa komprenet buan, ha pa oamp erru e Logonna en doa graet van da vezañ skuizh-divi hag en doa kinniget ober ur gwir ehan. Vakañsoù e-kreiz ar vakañsoù! Chomet e oamp daou zevezh leun e gourenez Logonna. Gant ur peizant e oamp bet aotreet da gousket en e c’hrañj. Hag evit kousket hor boa kousket, evel broc’hed, diouzh an noz ha war an deiz! Truezus e oa ar gwel ac’hanomp, a dra sur, rak pedet e oamp bet da goaniañ gant e wreg, ur gwir friko, ha pa oamp loc’het en-dro antronoz da c’houloù-deiz, a-raok na vije re loskus an heol, hor boa kavet pourvezioù fresk e-kichen hor marc’hoù-houarn: un dorzh-vara, ur pikol trañchenn fourmaj-rous paket en ur mouchouer, hag ur volennad sivi! Ur follennig paper a oa bet silet dindan ar bara: “Ar mouchouer a c’hellit kas ganeoc’h, met debrit tout ar sivi a-raok mont ha lezit ar volenn war ho lerc’h, mar plij ganeoc’h.” N’on ket evit lavarout deoc’h, Eujen, pegen fromet e oamp bet gant kement a vadelezh. Fromet, ha startijennet eus ar c’haerañ.

          “Da-c’houde-se e oamp aet trema Landerne, pegen koant ha birvidik ar gêr-se, hag ar pont war an Elorn gant e diez kozh! Ken brav all Roc’h-Morvan hag e gastell-greñv, meurdezus an dismantroù anezhañ e beg e roc’h skoet gant ar pevar avel! Ha roc’hoù lemm e pep lec’h, ha koadeier fonnus, hag e pep lec’h saflik an dourigoù! Echuet e oa bet an tennad e Sizun, ne oamp ket bet gwall vamet gant ar bourkig trist-se, ya, gwall drist hor boa kavet anezhañ en desped d’e iliz ha d’e c’hloz meurdezus. Antronoz e oamp loc’het warzu Sant-Riwall, un tennad naou-dinaou gwall rust adarre ma oamp bet rekouret brav gant ar freskijenn dindan ar gwez stank. Ac’haleno, dao war Menez Mikel. Mennet e oamp da gousket e skeud mogerioù ar chapelig, ha goude bezañ c’hwezet dourek o kas hor marc’hoù-houarn dre o barrennstur, rak ul lazh-korf e vije bet troadikellat war un hent meinek ken par da hini ar Golgotha, hor boa bet digoll hor poan gant arvest ur c’huzh-heol kaer-eston. Ya, un digoll sofkont… Biskoazh ken kaer! Gabriel ne ehane ket a estlammiñ: “O ma Doue benniget, pegen brav, pegen brav, n’eo ket Doue posupl!” Ha me evel-just oc’h ober goap outañ. “O ma Doue benniget, sed aze Gabriel Gwiader, pagan echu, o kanañ meuleudi da Zoue!” Ha da heul, e-giz boaz pa veze kaoz goap kenetrezomp, hag alies e veze, ur c’hrogad gouren dizampart war al letonenn flour a ra an dro d’ar chapelig. Ha c’hoarzh, c’hoarzh, c’hoarzh.

          Mich Beyer (1948, Douarnenez, France) is a teacher of Breton language and author of several novels and short stories written in Breton. She has taught in a variety of schools and even taught pedagogy to future teachers of the Breton language. She began publishing in 1991 with Ar Pennoù Koltar war an enez and has won the 2006 Prix France 3, the 2008 Prix Langleiz, the 2010 Prix Pêr Mokaer, and more. Planedenn paotr e bluenn (2022, The Destiny of the one Who Wrote) is her most recent novel.

          Fenten Feryl by Tim Saunders

          Fenten Feryl by Tim Saunders

          Y’n termyn usi tremmenys, yth esa trigys yn Itali den Feryl a y hanow, y’n tyller henwys Mantow. Bardh o ev, yn-kurunys a dhel herwydh gis berdh a vri, yn-unn gana yn kever arvow ha gorholyon, a dhenyon ha benenes, hag a’n pyth a via y’n termyn a dheu.

          Pur dhyskys yn gramer ha dargana ydh o Feryl, hag y skrifas ev lyvrow yn-dan edya tus bys y’n jydh hedhyw. Yth hembronkya ev tus dre goesow tywl, ha diskwedhes dhedha gwlaskordhow Annown. Ha dhodho ev yth esa fenten y’gan pow ni, may fydha an dowr ow perthi vertu down. Owth eva an dowr may fydha bodi pynnag ow kweles pan- dra re bia kyns hag ynwedh pandra a dheuva, mes yn peril merwel ow skonya mones war-yow gans an swynnennow, po ow mones war-yow yn-re skon.

          Orth krowshyns an morow yma Naw Kevrank agan pow ni, hag a’n le may fydh tus a golonn ow mora dhe beswar bann an bys. Yth yw henna gwir hedhyw, ha gwir o y’n hen amser ha marnoryon ow talleth gordhya Manowan Vab Lyr yn duw an Dhegves Gevrank, an Mor. Y fydh rann ow kortos tramor po war fordh verr po war fordh hir, rann ow tehweles yn bri ha sowynn, ha rann ow tehweles yn anken hag ankov. Yn feus po yn anfeus, y fydh an rei re dramoras fest a-venowgh ow miras yn-tro war hyns aga thrumaj, hag assaya lergha aga fordh dre’n bys. Ha mar ny vydh gorthep gwiw gans an re erell, traweythyow y tal troesya an tres dhe Fenten Feryl, ha pysi an bardh delbenn na a swynnennow a’n kreun eno.

          Yn-pell a froth an dygoel,
             yn mysk an ardhow moel,
          yn-yeyn y stif unn fenten
             lyr ylyn bys yn kreun,
                  ha gwrygh an Loer dre’n lyr
                  a sudh yn kyr ha kyr.

          Dhe’n fenten yeyn y’n deserth
             y klofav vy y’m kerth
          ha pysi Feryl dhelbenn
             a swynnenn a y geug prenn,
                  unn swynnenn lan heb stronk
                  a wlygh peub krinder lonk.

          Ha’n bresel yn y worfenn,
             pan dheu an gas dhe-benn,
          py edhomm vyth a’n kasor,
             py res vyth war neb kor?
                  Yth eth tus vro dhe-skwith
                  a y govow trosek brith.

          Gans ughel ha gans isel
             pub dydh y hwilav hwel:
          yn tavern hag yn eglos,
             orth men ha meynk ha moes
                  y tevyn kyrow skov
                  yn-town yn dor ow hov.

          Ankevi my a’n assay
             yn tavern ryb an kay
          tros taran ha losk lughes,
             lagasow own a-les:
                  orth diwbalv igor ben
                  ow solsow lows a len.

          Ottomma, a dus vryntin,
             ott dhywgh, a bobel fîn,
          an re na res ankovsowgh,
             re golonn ha brys trogh:
                  kepar hag ydh’n y’n prysk,
                  ymons hwath y’gas mysk.

          Yn romow tewl yth evons
             dre’n geskan ha dre’n dhons,
          gans kothman ha gans keswest
             yn goel ha fer ha fest
                  mayth a ow dydh dhe nos,
                  may koskav war an ros.

          Y sev an hen bennkervys
             y’n gorflann, yn sorn klys,
          war leghenn las y’n eglos
             ott henwyn mus yn-oes,
                  ha lent y koedh an neus
                  a’n vaner goth y’n skeus.

          Ottomma vy, unn nosweyth,
             ha’n stretow’n-kler ha breyth,
          yn-leun a venestrouthi,
             kan, salus, hwardh, ha kri,
                  ow pagla’n-tromm a-res
                  a hudh an routh a y res.

          Yn kres knowwydhek dhelvyw
             kollbrennyer byth na wyw
          a dovas y’n hen amser
             a gnow a goes an ster:
                  yn-ylyn y lemm dowr
                  leun vertu ha leun powr.

          An neb a dheu dhe Feryl,
             dh’y wobans y’n gwydh kyll,
          an neb a ev a’y fenten,
             po swynnenn goeg po leun,
                  a’n jevydh pols gwel glan
                  dre’n oesow oll a wan.

          Yn sketh heliys marnor,
             yn gwisk pluw frank an mor,
          dhe vester hus ha haloen,
             dhe ser mil hwyster soen,
                  kepar ha skommenn dreth
                  yn-tifreth my re dheuth.

          Tri govynn ev a’s govynn
             pan dhov dh’y wobans ynn:
          ow hanow gwir ha’w myster,
             ha’w desir drudh ha ker
                  rag eva vertu men
                  a’n fenten bever yeyn.

          “Key ov, gwas a’n mor difeyth,
             trummaja’n-pell ow gweyth,
          ha kedhlow sur y’s hwilav
             a voren geder vrav
                  a geris nans yw oes,
                  ha’y hireth hwath mar boes.”

          Ha’n del a wydh or Annown
             a-dov a wreydh klor down
          a-dro dh’y benn, ott Feryl
             ow styrya, “Gwel an kyll
                  a dev war lannow’nn greun
                  a lyr ken bys yn-leun.

          “Dhe’n dowr pan goedhas kollenn,
             dhe’n lyr dri blas a’n prenn,
          teyrgweyth res terri syghes
             war-nug, poneyl y res
                  dha hodhel bys dh’y fin
                  a skonder delenn grin.

          “A dhel re blethis kurun
             yn golow kann an Lun,
          ha gavel dhymmo danjer
             a gerth kordh oer an ster
                  war vu pub hedhyw lomm
                  yn-dann an ebron gromm.

          “Pub hedhyw yn oes Norvys,
             pub hedhyw les-ha-hys,
          pub de oll yn y hedhyw,
             ha pub avorow byw
                  a derr pub syghes kras
                  a lyr a’w skudell vas.

          “Res dhiso lowa ommaj
             dhe boell ha kur ha rach;
          mantolya gwra, dhymm musur
             a vo dhis hwans yn-sur
                  igeri’n porthow down
                  may tewreg joy hag own.

          “Heb hokkya dhymm nag ervir,
             dha syghes dhymmo styr,
          dha hyns pub kamm dhe’w gobans,
             ha tardhla down dha hwans!”
                  “A’w bodh y styryav dhis
                  ow hyns dhe’th tu dre’n bys.

          “Orth dalleth glan an bresel,
             hwath kro an krow war wel,
          y keris a leun golonn
             un voren vleudh hy bronn,
                  hy hara’n-roedh ha skav
                  un dohajydh y’n Hav.”

          “An voren mars y’s kersis,”
             y’n medh ev, “pandr’o pris
          dha drummach fers dhe’n downlas?
             Py wobern o mar vras
                  rag gasa ben, heb lay
                  yn oelva war an kay?”

          “Yth esa gorwalgh warnav
             a’y owrwols ha’y fass vrav,
          heb pysi ha heb govynn
             may ledris byrl hag amm,
                  ha skapya my a’n gwrug
                  dhe’n flour yn fisten fug.”

          “Dehwelys bys yn tiredh
             pan eses,” dhymm y’n medh
          an soenor, “prag a-dhehwans
             yn gwel ha pras ha pans
                  na holsis lergh dha ven
                  yn stret ha plas ha plen?”

          “Es lowr yn eur an glori,
             re roedh y’n klos ha’n bri,”
          y’n styris, “yth o ervir
             dilesel kov ha styr
                  pub hanow ha pub ger
                  yn tervyans foll an fer.

          “Y’n gobons pols y hwelis
             yn-roedh ha skav ow gis,
          ha gwevya war-vin karlamm
             ha dhedhi hwytha amm
                  ha fyski’n-dann an flour
                  dhe vysk an wesyon dhour.

          “Pan goedh pub goel a’n dele,
             pan vleujyow gwernow’n-fre,
          pan wonidh derag ewon
             a-dhowdu saldres ynn,
                  has boll gwanegow meyn
                  a les y’n glaskroft yeyn.

          “Re dhew flowr hel an vorwer,
             Manowan hweg Vab Lyr,
          ha ren y bedrenn dheghow
             y lighis heb unn gow
                  del vien marnor gwir
                  bys troesya arta’n tir.

          War did an keth gorthugher,
             a-dreus an lyr a ler,
          y foris y’n lu-lestri,
             koes gwernow war an li’:
                  a-dro dhe dro yn-tromm
                  yth hartha kanvas kromm.

          “Yn goelyas po yn powes,
             heb gwyns vyth po a-dres,
          yn helghyans po kevammok,
             yn lewgh po niwl po mog,
                  ott ayr ow perthi powr,
                  ha trumm owth aras dowr.”

          “Mes lemmyn dhymmo lavar,”
             y’n medh an prydydh hwar,
          “py eryow hweg a’th foren
             a wre kov aga doen?”
                  “Ger diblans vyth y’n bys,”
                  y’n medhis, “’dho dhe’w brys.

          “Skeus gwen orth amal hunros,
             lev klor yn spavenn vros,
          anadhla tewl war gonna,
             ayr nos yn-kriv pan a
                  dre we lovanow tynn
                  dhe ganvas poes a rynn.

          “Degh, hedhyw, hag avorow,
             gwern, goelyow, flour, korf kow,
          trumm syth, hag estyll gwastas,
             prenn kromm, topp, dele, stras:
                  yn burdhen meul ha marth
                  y sonons i war-barth.

          Y sen pub prenn ha lovan,
             pub kentrenn oll a gan,
          y hwers klegh glan pub goelyas
             a’n topp dhe buth an stras,
                  desedha kovow pell,
                  kompesi hireth fell.

          “Ethweyth yn-lel y feulir
             y’n woelyas Mab gwynn Lyr,
          gans klogh a gan y Ofig
             a daves olkan strik,
                  ha ’dhyn, merwelyon wann,
                  an gorwel yw y lann.

          “Yn goelyas lent an pervedh,
             an ster may syger tredh,
          a-dro dhe dhew ons bakka
             yn-terghys a bleg da,
                  y trovyis lyther sergh,
                  ger galar kolonn vyrgh.

          “Y trovyis ger darbarvamm
             yn dornskrif moen hwymm-hwamm,
          dh’y heryas pell kri yeunes
             dre dhagrow, ha may pes
                  a hanow gwiw gwreg vas,
                  dh’y baban hi, y das.”

          “Ha henna dhis o skila
             yn aswels tromm dha fe
          ervira re sergh nowydh
             dhe’n ven re th karsen’n rydh?”
                  “Fe? Sergh? Mann war neb kor
                  yn mysk freuth freth an mor!

          “Ha’n dornow war unn lovan,
             ha’n levow yn unn gan,
          ha’n lester a-lamm dre’n myttin
             hag askorn yn y vin,
                  gwir vreder len yth en,
                  un golonn vras heb ken.

          “Pan dreussyn an Kehysedh,
             dhe’n Deghow larj a’n Kledh,
          yn gordhyans dhe Vanowan
             y hwrussyn dons gans kan
                  yn-feri war an flour
                  lomm lollas gans pub gour.

          “Manowan ha’y dhiwbedrenn
             y’s sakryn oll yn tenn
          leun vertu flowr an lollas,
             oferenn pluw’n woen las,
                  ha gordhyans gwynn Mab Lyr
                  a selow kig an wyr.

          “War-bols yn gorboell tewedh,
             mar hweg del via bedh!
          Hag ena, klor a spavenn,
             na dheffo byth dhe-benn!
                  Y tyll an mor pub lev
                  hen Ifarn dhown ha Nev.

          “Yn-poes y kilya gwynsnerth
             a vur an alsyow serth,
          ha teghi’n-hworth a’n ammuk
             an lyrow lymm a wrug,
                  hag eskern fethys keth
                  a skolkya war an treth.

          “Treth hirlomm po als dornwynn
             karn, ynys, porth, po rynn,
          lyr loeslas bys dhe’n gorwel,
             po jorna yn-dann sel
                  hen vesont skon a deudh:
                  war-yow ni a’a heb keudh –

          “– heb keudh vyth, lemen browagh,
             ha goli, kreyth, ha kragh;
          ot korf ha korf yn kanvas
             a lag dhe vedhros las:
                  keudh vyth oll, lemen euth,
                  ha moredh fell a veudh.

          Tim Saunders (1956, Cornwall, England) writes in Cornish, Welsh, Irish, Breton, and English. He is originally from Cornwall and primarily writes in the Cornish language. He has written poetry in Cornish since 1974, and as a literary historian, he has published an anthology of Cornish poetry from 1850–1980 titled The Wheel. He published two additional anthologies: Nothing Broken (2006), which focuses on contemporary Cornish poetry, and Looking at the Mermaid (2000), which collects Cornish literature from 900–1900. In 1998, he was named bard of the Gorsedh Kernow. Fenten Feryl / Virgil’s Fountain appeared in 2019, published bilingually in Cornish and English translation by the author.

          Fenten Feryl by Tim Saunders

          Virgil’s Fountain by Tim Saunders

          A long time ago there lived in Italy a man by the name of Virgil, in the place called Mantua. A poet was he, crowned with leaves after the manner of poets of renown, who sang of weapons and ships, of men and women, and of what would be in the time to come.

          Virgil was very learned in the science of enchantment and in prophecy, and he wrote books that give people guidance to this very day. He showed people the way through dark woods, and displayed to them the realms of the Otherworld. And it was he who had in Cornwall a spring whose water bore a deep power. Any person drinking this water would be granted a vision of what had been and what would be, but at the risk of death if they failed to contine drinking the draughts, or took them too quickly.

          The Nine Shires of Cornwall lie at the crossroad of the seas, and it is from here that spirited people set sail for the four quarters of the compass. That is true today, and it was true in the ancient time as seafarers began to worship and pray to Manannan, Son of Lear, as the god of the Tenth Shire, the sea. Some of them remain overseas, whether living out their lives there or dying in the attempt, some return in renown and success, and some return in dire need and oblivion. Whether their fortune be good or bad, those who have gone overseas very often do look back on the route of their voyage, and try to trace their way through the world. And if others are unable to supply them with a fitting answer, they tread the path to the Fountain of Virgil, and ask that leafy-headed poet for draughts from the pool there.

          Far from the turmoil of the feast,
             among the treeless heights,
          a certain fountain gushes coldly
             clear water flowing to a pool
                  and sparks of the Moon through the flowing water
                  sink layer by layer.

          To the cold fountain in the wilderness
             I stumble as of right
          to ask of leafy-headed Virgil
             a swig from his wooden drinking-bowl,
                  just one untainted draught
                  to slake the dryness of my throat.

          When the war is ended,
             when the battle ceases,
          what do we need of the warrior,
             what is his use at all?
                  The people of the land grow weary
                  of his noisy recollections.

          Among the high and low
             I look for work:
          daily in tavern and in church
             at stone and bench and table
                  I would touch rich layers
                  deep in the earth of my memory.

          In a tavern by the quay
             I struggle to forget
          the noise of thunder and the sear of lightning,
             fearful eyes wide open:
                  my loose shillings cling
                  to a maiden’s open palm.

          Here are, O noble people,
             here you will find, O fine folk,
          those you have forgotten,
             those of broken heart and mind:
                  like birds in thickets
                  they are still among you.

          Drinking in gloomy bars
             amidst the chorus and the dance;
          in festival and fair and feast
             with friends and fellow-topers
                  my homeless day becomes the night,
                  and I will sleep upon the heath.

          In the graveyard, in a sheltered corner,
             stands the ancient figurehead
          and speechless names adorn
             the blue slate in the church forever,
                  and slowly fall the threads
                  from the old standard in the shadows.

          Thus I find myself one evening,
             on the bright and multi-coloured streets,
          full of instrumental music playing,
             songs and greetings, laughter, cries,
                  suddenly fleeing by compulsion
                  from the merriment of the throng.

          In a grove of nut trees, living-leaved,
             of hazel trees that never wither
          that grow from ancient time,
             kernels from the forests of the stars:
                  leaps transparent water
                  full of strength and power.

          Whosoever comes to Virgil,
             to the hollow there among the hazels,
          whosoever drinking from his fountain,
             a meagre swig or healthy draught,
                  shall have a moment of clear vision
                  that penetrates across the ages.

          In the salt-stained tatters of the sailor,
             in the costume of the free parish of the seas,
          to the master of magic and alchemy,
             to the artificer of a thousand whispers of enchantment
                  like a piece of jetsam
                  feebly I have come.

          When I visit his narrow little hollow
             three questions he asks of me:
          my true name and my calling,
             and the most precious object of desire
                  that I might drink the visionary power
                  of the glistening fountain.

          “My name is Kea, a fellow of the high seas,
             my work to voyage far and wide,
          and I seek news
             of a fine fair maid
                  whom I loved long ago,
                  the yearning for her still so heavy.”

          With leaves about his head
             from trees from the margin of the Otherworld
          that grow from cool deep roots,
             thus Virgil speaks: “See the hazels
                  growing on the pond’s bank
                  full of flowing water from that other place.

          “There falls into the water a hazel nut,
             bringing the taste of hazel to the flowing water,
          you must drink three times
             without hestitation, or you will run
                  your lifespan to its end
                  with the swiftness of a shrivelled leaf.

          “I have made from leaves
             in pure-white moonlight,
          assuming jurisdiction
             of the ice-cold kingdom of the stars
                  over every unadorned today
                  under the curving sky.

          “Every today that ever was,
             every today in length and breadth,
          every yesterday in its today,
             and every living tomorrow
                  that quenches every parching thirst
                  with flowing water from my shallow bowl.

          “You must defer to reason,
             responsibility and care,
          weigh up and measure out for me
             if your desire is true enough
                  to open the deep portals
                  to the flood of fear and joy.

          “Do not decide impulsively
             explain your thirst for understanding,
          and recount your every step unto my bower,
             and the deep source of your desire!”
                  “Gladly I will explain to you
                  my journey through the world to you.

          “At the very outset of the war,
             blood still fresh upon the battlefield,
          I loved with a full heart
             a soft-breasted maid,
                  an uncomplicated love
                  one afternoon in summer.”

          “If indeed you loved her,”
             said he, “what was the worth
          of your tumultuous voyage in the deepgreen sea?
             Was the reward so great
                  for you to quit her
                  in lamentation on the quay?”

          “I had a surfeit
             of her golden hair and comely face,
          and without so much as asking
             I stole a kiss and an embrace,
                  and got away
                  to the deck in a show of haste.”

          “When you returned to land,”
             the enchanter said to me,
          “why did you not
             in field and meadow and hollow
                  look for a sign of her
                  in street and palace and playing-place?”

          “Easy enough in the hour of triumph,
             too easy in the glory and renown,”
          I replied, “was my choice
             to cast off memory and meaning
                    of every name and every single word
                    in the madding turmoil of the crowd.

          “On the gangway for a moment
             I turned in an unaffected manner,
          about to break into a run
             and blew a kiss,
                  and hastened down below
                  to be with my valiant companions.

          “When sails drop from the yard-arm,
             when masts blossom freely,
          when the bow sows foam
             on two sides of a narrow salty furrow
                  translucent seeds of mighty breakers
                  put forth shoots in the cold green fallow ground.

          “By the transcendant god of sailors,
             sweet Manannan, son of Lear,
          by his right buttock,
             I swore without guile
                  that I would be an honest sailor
                  until I trod upon the land again.

          “On that evening’s tide,
             across the sweeping flowing water
          I set sail in the host of ships,
             a forest of masts upon the flood:
                  from time to time sharply
                  billowing canvas barked.

          “On watch or at rest,
             without wind or under weigh,
          in pursuit or in engagement,
             in mist or fog or smoke,
                  here you will find air bearing power,
                  and keel ploughing water.”

          “Tell me now,”
             said the urbane poet,
          “what sweet words from your amour
             did you recall?”
                  “No exact word in the world,
                  said I, “did come to mind.

          “Shadow of her slight smile at the edge of a dream,
             cool voice in boiling-hot calm,
          dark breaths on neck,
             air of night when it goes
                  through a taut web of ropes
                  into heavy shivering canvas.

          “Yesterday, today, and tomorrow,
             mast, sails, deck, hollow hull,
          straight keel, and level planks,
             curved timber, crow’s nest, bilges:
                  in a chorus of praise and wonder
                  joined together.

          “Every timber and rope resounds,
             every single nail sings,
          clear bells versify each watch
             from the crow’s nest to the pit of the bilges,
                  placing in order distant memories,
                  resolving cruel longing.

          Eight times faithfully in the watch
             the blessed Son of Lear is praised,
          by a bell that sings his Office
             with a nimble metal tongue,
                  and for us, poor mortals,
                  the horizon is his sacred enclosure.

          “In the sluggish middle watch,
             when stars flow slowly through the sky,
          I found wrapped round two ounces of tobacco
             twisted with a good fold
                  a love letter,
                  a cry of pain from a girl’s heart.

          “I found the word of a mother-to-be
             in a thin unsteady hand,
          to her absent sweetheart, a cry of longing
             through tears, in which she begged
                  the worthy name of an honest wife,
                  and for her baby a father.”

          “And was that your only motivation
             a sudden rekindling of your faithfulness
          to give new love
             to the girl who loved you unreservedly?”
                  “Faithfulness? Love? Not by any means
                  among the swift-moving turmoil of the sea!

          “When your hands were on the rope,
             and voices melded in one song,
          the vessel leaping through the morning
             as if a bone was in its mouth,
                  true loyal brothers
                  with one great heart were we.

          “And crossing the Equator
             to the ample South from North
          in worship to Manannan
             joyfully we danced on deck
                  to a song
                  with tots of rum for every man.

          “By Manannan and his two buttocks!
             We consecrate in a draught
          full of the sublime power of rum,
             the Communion of the green down’s parish,
                  blessed protection of the Son of Lear
                  will save the flesh of men.

          “For a moment in the frenzy of ill weather,
             how sweet would be a grave!
          And then, a calm so sweet,
             if only it would never end!
                  The sea gives forth the voices
                  of ancient deep Hell and Heaven.

          “Reluctantly the wind draws back
             from the wall of the steep cliffs,
          and retreats sulkily from its parapets
             and the sharp flowing waters,
                  and enslaved defeated bones
                  lurk on the beach.

          “Long bare beach or white-fisted cliff,
             rock, island, port, or promontory,
          greygreen flowing all the way to the world’s end,
             or the day sealed
                  by an ancient bezant that quickly melts:
                  forward we go unburdened by melancholy –

          “– without melancholy, but with terror,
             and wound, and scar, and scab;
          here body after body in canvas
             splashing into a greygreen cemetery:
                  not melancholy for sure, but horror,
                  and a cruel grief that drowns.

          Tim Saunders (1956, Cornwall, England) writes in Cornish, Welsh, Irish, Breton, and English. He is originally from Cornwall and primarily writes in the Cornish language. He has written poetry in Cornish since 1974, and as a literary historian, he has published an anthology of Cornish poetry from 1850–1980 titled The Wheel. He published two additional anthologies: Nothing Broken (2006), which focuses on contemporary Cornish poetry, and Looking at the Mermaid (2000), which collects Cornish literature from 900–1900. In 1998, he was named bard of the Gorsedh Kernow. Fenten Feryl / Virgil’s Fountain appeared in 2019, published bilingually in Cornish and English translation by the author.

          Borderlands by Ligija Purinaša, translated by Jayde Will

          Borderlands by Ligija Purinaša, translated by Jayde Will

          I’m cold
          close the window

          here I am alone
          on the hill in the cemetery
          there’s a rustling wind
          on April 7th
          1959
          tractors
          drove over
          all of them
          a bulldozer
          took away
          every part of them
          the collective farm needed new territory
          to plant corn
          and people’s flesh
          was the best fertilizer
          for the bright sun of the future

          I needed
          a few years
          to understand
          that all of your
          dead brides
          will look
          at me in the mirror

          frankly and honestly
          it won’t work out between us

          after many detours and
          after such a long time
          you’ll come to visit

          I will dye my hair
          I’ll tell myself that
          those children that
          everyone needed
          didn’t exist
          and life passed by
          hopelessly and empty

          you’ll turn away hurt
          put wood in the stove
          put on the kettle
          and you might touch
          my arm or shoulder
          ever so slightly

          I will always always
          be your madonna
          for whom caressing
          means disappearing

          the social reality is such
          that it’s easier to say no
          to a woman than your mom

          I know what it means
          to stab a heart with a knife
          betray your principles
          your parents’ concerns
          and the chance to play the victim

          it’s possible, precisely for that reason,
          some men maintain their
          independence
          playing Counter Strike
          trading in their bmws
          or their girls
          joining the army
          or remaining hippies
          not leaving their room
          in an empty town
          drinking themselves to death
          or going out of their mind

          leaving you
          is a little like dying
          a longing for refinement
          is forever drowning

          I am like anna karenina
          I go over the rails of the everyday
          hoping that instead of a train
          vronsky will arrive

          all of my karenins
          have left for other
          cities and happily
          try to forget themselves
          and not only anna

          the evening before work
          we watch a movie
          about supermen and
          superwomen
          they don’t get old
          they wear one and the same clothes
          their worklist doesn’t change
          and their career opportunities are few
          or don’t exist at all
          each of us has their own extra identity
          you take off your mask
          crawl into bed
          I act
          like I don’t know you
          in the morning we will patrol the city
          acting like the best of friends

          the morning of Midsummer
          we went for a swim naked
          on Vecāķi beach
          the sea had been filled with
          shame and fear
          back home all the lakes
          were filled with
          traditional-values
          tourists, the young
          the lonely
          all of them were happy
          only then someone
          looked at them
          sleeping
          like they were an art object
          in the last Catholic church

          we definitely shouldn’t have done it
          and I am not defending him

          but sometimes love
          produces unconditional
          uncertainty
          which progresses

          my voice departs
          with the sedge of cranes
          white lines in the sky

          the smell of cut potato stems and leaves
          chafes between all of them
          none of it has happened
          none of it has been said

          what hasn’t been said hasn’t happened
          the roadside ditches are submerged in brushwood
          the village’s spots become grown over
          leaving
          finalizing
          is the foundation of all things

          Ligija Purinaša (1991, Rēzekne, Latvia) is a poet and journalist writing in Latgalian and Latvian. She has published two collections of poems: Sīvīte [Woman, 2019], which was shortlisted in the Best Debut category at the Annual Latvian Literature Awards in 2020, and Pierobežas [Borderlands, 2022], which was longlisted in the Best Poetry Collection at said awards in 2023. Both books were also shortlisted for the Annual Latvian Literature Award in 2020 and 2023. In 2020 her poems were included in a bilingual Latgalian poetry anthology entitled The Last Model / Pādejais modeļs (Francis Boutle Publishers). Her poems have also been translated into German and Czech.

          Jayde Will (1978) is a writer and literary translator working from Latgalian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Estonian, and German into English. He has an M.A. in Fenno-Ugric Linguistics from Tartu University. Since 2007 he has translated close to 30 books, ranging from Lithuanian history to Latgalian poetry. He received the 2020 Silver Ink Translation Award for Best Translation from Latvian into a Foreign Language for his translation of Latvian writer Alberts Bels’s seminal novel “Insomnia” (Parthian Press, 2020). His own essays, short stories, and poetry have been published widely in literary and lifestyle magazines, including Words Without Borders, Panel Magazine, Lituanus, Vilnius Review, and The Passenger.

          Borderlands by Ligija Purinaša, translated by Jayde Will

          Pierobežas by Ligija Purinaša

          maņ solts
          aiztaisi lūgu

          te es asu vīna
          kopu kaļneņā
          šalkoj viejs
          1959.goda
          7.aprelī
          jūs vysus
          puorbrauce
          traktori
          buldozers
          izvede
          kotru
          kolhozam vajadzēja jaunys teritorejis
          kur īsēt kukurūzu
          i cylvāku mīsys beja
          lobuokais māsluojums
          spūžai nuokūtnis saulei

          maņ vajadzēja
          dažus godus
          kab saprostu
          ka vysys tovys
          myrušuos leigovys
          vērēs iz mani spīgelī

          taišni i gūdeigai
          mums nikas nasaīs

          pa apvedcelim i
          par garim laikim
          tu ībrauksi gostūs

          es kruosuošu motus
          vys jau puormesšu
          sev ka tūmār nabeja
          tūs bārnu kuru vysim
          tai vajadzēja
          i dzeive proguoja
          tukša i bezjiedzeiga

          tu vaineigi nūsaviersi
          daliksi plitā molku
          izliksi čainiku
          pi placa ar rūku
          varbyut ari
          dasadūrsi

          es vysod, vysod
          tev byušu madonna
          kam dasaskart zeimoj
          pagaist

          socialuo realitate ir taida
          ka vīgļuok ir atsaceit
          sīvītei nikai mamai

          zynu tys zeimoj
          īdūrt nazi sirdī
          nūdūt principus
          vacuoku ryupis
          i spieju uzupurēt

          īspiejams, taišni deļtam
          daži veirīši sagloboj sovu
          naatkareibu
          spielejūt counter strike
          mainūt bemkys
          voi meitinis
          īmūt armejā
          voi palīkūt par hipijim
          īslādzūt sevi
          tukšā sātā
          nūsadzerūt
          voi sajiukstūt pruotā

          atbraukt nu teve
          ir drusku kai nūmiert
          ilgys piec smukuma ir
          bezgaleiga sleikšona

          es kai anna karenina
          eju puori kasdīnys slīdem
          cerūt ka viļcīņa vītā
          tūmār atīs vronskis

          vysi muni karenini
          aizbraukuši iz cytom
          piļsātom i laimeigi
          raudzej aizmierst sovu
          i na tikai annu

          naktī pyrma dorba
          mes veromēs kinys
          par supermenim i
          supersīvītem
          jī nanūvacoj
          jī nosoj vīnys i tuos pošys drēbis
          jūs dorbu saroksti nasamaina
          i karjerys īspieju nav daudz
          voi nimoz
          kotram nu myusu ir sova papyldu ideņtitate
          apveļc masku
          īkuop gultā
          es izalikšu
          ka teve napazeistu
          nu reita mes patrulēsim piļsātu
          izalīkūt par lobuokajim draugim

          Juoņu nakts reitā
          mes maudomēs plyki
          Vacuoķu pļažā
          jiura beja pīlejuse ar
          kaunu i šaubom
          sātā vysi azari
          pylni ar
          tykumeigajim
          turistim, jaunīšim
          vīntulajim idiotim
          kas ir laimiegi viņ
          kod kaids verās iz jim
          aizmygušim
          kai iz muokslys objektim
          pādejā katuoļu bazneicā

          myusim nūteikti tai navajadzēja dareit
          i es jū naaizstuovu

          bet mīlesteiba šaļtim
          producej bezīrunu
          nanūteikteibu
          kas progresej

          muns bolss aizīt
          ar dziervu kuošim
          dabasūs boltys linejis

          muotruoju smuords
          trynās vysu storpā
          tys vyss nav nūtics
          tys vyss nav pasaceits

          kas nav pasaceits tys nav nūtics
          applyust gruovmolys brikšni
          aizaug sātys vītys
          aizbraukšona
          izaškieršona
          ir vysu lītu pamats

          Ligija Purinaša (1991, Rēzekne, Latvia) is a poet and journalist writing in Latgalian and Latvian. She has published two collections of poems: Sīvīte [Woman, 2019], which was shortlisted in the Best Debut category at the Annual Latvian Literature Awards in 2020, and Pierobežas [Borderlands, 2022], which was longlisted in the Best Poetry Collection at said awards in 2023. Both books were also shortlisted for the Annual Latvian Literature Award in 2020 and 2023. In 2020 her poems were included in a bilingual Latgalian poetry anthology entitled The Last Model / Pādejais modeļs (Francis Boutle Publishers). Her poems have also been translated into German and Czech.

          Trafika Europe