Healing through poetry

The Severed Wing

Severed and plucked is my wing, my left wing,
and with it the half of my heart.
Deep and unbearable in me the pain
of my life now, the permanent part.

And I wanted to fall as a stone,
simple, so,
take leave of my grief and my pain,
and I knew,
I was ready for the freedom, to go,
I was,
but my chick would remain.

My fledgling will need me I know,
too forlorn to sustain one more blow,
no more to bereave her,
to sadden and grieve her,
but hold her,
comfort, and never let go.

Not a bird maimed and bleeding and sick,
not a bird frail and weak,
not a bird torn at wing, a bird plucked.
A bird-mother – a woman,
a bird to provide,
strong, to guide,
for each question asked, bird that replied.

To forge a new way for my chick,
paving a path for her soul,
Dear God, give me strength now
and keep me from fear,
still grieving am I though still breathing,
still breathing am I and still grieving.

Written by immigrant Fanny Modilevsky whose son and daughter-in-law were murdered in Kiev in 1998. After their death, Fanny and her husband Mark brought their 4 year old orphaned granddaughter Jenya back to Israel where they have been raising her since.

Translated from Hebrew by Aviva Marks.

From: Israeli Women for Ida Nudel
The Israel Public Council for Soviet Jewry*

Shalom Ida Nudel

by Naomi Shemer

We both were born in the same year, from one people come,
And though we two have never met
Nor may I bid you welcome yet –
Allow me for all that to call you sister,
And tell you in a tongue ancient as time –
Your people are my people, your G-d, mine.

A tiny woman in a snow-bound desert
A pail of water in her frozen hand
And in her hut, to cold and hunger prey
In solitude she struggles, abandoned to the fray –
And yet against all reason, in some strange and curious way
It may be said that she, she is my only hope today.

I who dwell in comfort and in shelter
With shade in summer and with autumn’s stove
And honey with my morning bread and butter,
And she has nothing, save despair and cold.
And all the stubbornness and all the quiet
And all the arid dryness after storm –
A tiny woman, and her cry – a whisper
A stranger to me, yet for all that, sister.

The family tree we both do share is ancient,
The wind that moves it blows beyond the pale,
One is the wind that soars across the borders
Of the Siberian frost – to Erez Yisrael.

That wind it is that moves your silent lips now
And pledges us to seal one with the other
A covenant of sister souls.
And whispers to me as I write to wish you well
To wish you all the blue and light of Eretz Yisrael –
That I believe the long awaited day is soon to come
When I may bid you welcome, and when one enormous sun
WIll shine upon the two us, dear sister.

Translated from Hebrew by Aviva Marks.

*Selah’s establishment began as an extension of The Israel Public Council for Soviet Jewry. Read more on our timeline.