Flow­ers of Perhaps

Ra’hel; Robert Friend with Shi­mon Sand­bank, trans.
  • Review
By – January 27, 2012

Sen­si­tive, sus­cep­ti­ble, ten­der, and con­trolled are the words that come to mind when read­ing the beau­ti­ful poems of the renowned Israeli poet Ra’hel or Rachel, in the col­lec­tion Flow­ers of Per­haps. Tiny Joys” best exem­pli­fies Ra’hel’s deep appre­ci­a­tion for life, using the frag­ile sim­i­le Tiny joys, joys like a lizard’s tail:…” but pen­e­trat­ing fur­ther in a resound­ing cho­rus of Every­thing blessed./A con­sol­ing music in everything,/in every­thing mys­ter­ies and hints — /​and every­thing wait­ing for corals of beau­ti­ful words/​to be strung by the imag­i­na­tion on its string.” Con­sid­er the poem To my coun­try,” in which she admits she has no hero­ic deeds or bat­tles to bring to the glo­ry of Israel but instead “…on the shores of the Jordan/​my hands have plant­ed a tree,/and my feet have made a path­way through your fields.” The sor­row of lost love and her own debil­i­tat­ing ill­ness of mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis are min­i­mized by her qui­et, real­is­tic aware­ness that I,/blessed by these showers/​shall twist my way/​between cof­fin cracks and up/​through sat­u­rat­ed clods/​into the wide day,/to stare at the kham­sin (hot desert wind)/with the eyes of grass and of flow­ers.” This is a heart-mov­ing collection.

Deb­o­rah Schoen­e­man, is a for­mer Eng­lish teacher/​Writing Across the Cur­ricu­lum Cen­ter Coor­di­na­tor at North Shore Hebrew Acad­e­my High School and coed­i­tor of Mod­ern Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture: A Library of Lit­er­ary Crit­i­cism, Vol. VI, pub­lished in 1997.

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