A Letter of Recommendation

By Yehuda Amichai 1924–2000 Yehuda Amichai

Translated By Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell

On summer nights I sleep naked
in Jerusalem. My bed
stands on the brink of a deep valley
without rolling down into it.

In the daytime I walk around with the Ten
Commandments on my lips
like an old tune someone hums to himself.

Oh touch me, touch me, good woman!
That’s not a scar you feel under my shirt, that’s
a letter of recommendation, folded up tight,
from my father:
“All the same, he’s a good boy, and full of love.”

I remember my father waking me for early prayers.
He would do it by gently stroking my forehead, not
by tearing away the blanket.

Since then I love him even more.
And as his reward, may he be wakened
gently and with love
on the Day of the Resurrection.

Yehuda Amichai, “Letter of Recommendation” from Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai, published by Harper & Row. Copyright © 1986 by Yehuda Amichai. Reprinted by permission of Hana Amichai.

Source: The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai (Harper & Row, 1986)

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Poet Yehuda Amichai 1924–2000

POET’S REGION Israel

Subjects Living, Death, Sorrow & Grieving, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Religion, Faith & Doubt, Judaism