1469 c/o Rebecca Perry

An extract from Elia Levita Bachur’s
Bovo-Buch, generally regarded as
the most outstanding poetic work
in Old Yiddish

this love
your own mother could try to poison you
you wouldn’t even notice
it could kill a sultan even
it could keep you alive
without food or sun in a prison cell
for exactly one year

it could
probably you won’t understand
jump down a horse’s throat
and buck its heart from the inside
it could make a horse magic
magic heart, magic hoofs
faster than sand storms
a horse capable of saying
its own name Rundele

it would
come into the forest with you
when you have to run away again
from men with black teeth
and you are warm inside the woman
who may as well have been your wife forever
pressing down into the leaves and earth

and then
still there when she is big as a cloud
her scream louder than mountains falling
and then when she has a twin
in each arm-nook
her eyes like mushroom caps
unblinking, soft, waiting for something