Anat Zecharia

A Woman of Valor

35 soldiers on active duty and several civilian employees at an air base have been conducting sexual relations with a 14-year-old girl over the past year. Many of the suspects claimed during questioning that the girl had told them she was of enlistment age.”  
Hannan Greenberg,  Ynet News

The first  
places your head on his naked lap  
and one might think  
you weren’t being forced but rather  
thanked and your head stroked.  
The second slides slowly down your back  
the feelings are new  
and you can still concentrate.  
The third inserts three fingers, says  
“Don’t move.” You don’t,  
the map of greater Israel  
in your eyes.  
The fourth moves aside a pile of reports  
on air accidents in the south  
and takes you from behind.  
A great love you think  
a great love scorches me  
and won’t let up.  
You raise and lower your arms  
your body stretches to the edge of the sky  
your hands cupped for the rain.  
The unstoppable fifth and sixth  
course into you.  
The arrogant salt of the earth, avoiding eyes,  
those waiting their turn. Soon your body may look beautiful  
even to you.

Herzl Says

Herzl says  
hands up  
Herzl says  
put your hands on your head  
Herzl says to me  
count to three  
Herzl says  
lick your lips  
Herzl says to me  
get down on your knees  
Herzl says inhale the scent  
of a man who is good  
for your health  
Herzl says to me come  
let’s strip now  
Herzl says, I personally envisioned  
you spreading your legs  
and turning over.  
Herzl, I say  
I’m opening wide I’m expanding  
I’m looking at my Garden of Eden  
which you never knew  
because the truth is mine only  
when I alone  
hold an apple in my mouth.

Anat Zecharia’s work is influenced by Israeli feminist poets like Yona Wallach and Agi Mishoi. Her poems cover sexuality and desire in a direct and uncensored language. Sexuality is often paired with power, but also with a wish to dedemonize it ( Let Me Be). You can often find a certain ambiguity in her poems. Herzl Saysfor example evokes both the harmless children’s game „Simon says...“ and the image of a dominating male giving orders. The fact that Herzl also could be interpreted as Theodor Herzl, the „father“ of Zionism, gives the poem a political perspective, which is another frequent characteristic in Anat Zechariat’s poems. There is often a political aspect to violence, like when a young girl, being raped by 35 soldiers, has „the map of greater Israel in [her] eyes ( A Woman Of Valor).The articulate physicalness and proud desire contrast with an awareness of fragility and danger that is hovering over the subjects of Zecharia’s poems. This reflects the political reality of Israel where “one small child with a slingshot is enough to set fire to all“ ( West Bank).

Read Anat's biography and poetry in translation.


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