Origin of the world
translated by Yotam Benshalom
Poet, translator and performance artist Noam Partom is a graduate of Tel Aviv University’s creative writing program, the Helicon Poetry School and the Rimon Academy for Jazz and Contemporary Music. She is the recipient of the 2015 Israeli Culture Ministry Award for Emerging Poets and the 2014 Ramat Gan Award for a debut poetry book.
She graduated from Tel Aviv University’s creative writing program, Helicon School of Poetry, and Rimon Academy for Jazz and Contemporary Music. In addition to the poetic-musical show, Songs from the Bidibom, which she created in collaboration with the composer Yonathan Cnaan, Partom also stands behind PoeTube – the online filmed poetry project. Her debut book, Setting the Water on Fire, was published by Xargol/Am Oved in October 2012, and has since been reprinted three times. She recently published a Hebrew translation of Shel Silverstein’s book of poems for children, Every Thing on It, in Modan Publishing, for which she received the 2016 International Andersen Award.
L’Origine du monde (“The Origin of theWorld”)
Gustave Courbet 1866
The Origin of theWorld
BY NOAM PARTOM
I hereby close the gates between my legs till further notice
For an unlimited period, due to maintenance.
No bearers of first fruit will come
No pilgrims will make pilgrimage
No prayers made under the empty skies,
Not a single butchered sheep is to be offered as a sacrifice
Upon my tortured holy altar.
The origin of the world was found to be rotten.
All men are corrupt.
All sexual activity – an abomination.
I raise a dam, lay an embargo, impose a curfew, economic ban –
No goods or wares can be transported,
Nor imported, or exported,
All vessels are requested to remain in port and blow
Their steam on neutral.
I build a wooden ark to save only myself
And flee this wretched ruin,
I bring down a heavy rain, a flood, a couldburst without brake,
And may all men flutter, be washed out like seashells in a rake.
All men are similar to starfish, putrid, withered, pale – the works,
All men are green glass bottles sealed with perforated corks
Carrying worn, forlorn and fraudulent love letters, safe and sound.
All men are carried by the waves,
Forever lost and drowned.
And I promise –
That no rebellious raven will be fluttering within my drunken depths,
Nor will be set free prematurely from my abyss
To see if the waters were abated.
As for the dove, you rest assured I keep it closely to my heart.
The flood already happened!
Tear all existing things apart!
“The origin of the world” will remain frozen and static, a dead metaphor,
Still life under my short mini skirt
Like in the painting by Courbet.
For I, dear sirs, am luckily
A female poet.
And now I will create a whole new world
All different than you know it.