The following is one of three poems by the Israeli poet Hava Pinhas-Cohen that I translated and published in the recent issue of the Toronto Journal of Jewish Thought.
A Mother’s Prayer Before Dawn
by Hava Pinhas-Cohen
At the hour when I am about to cook porridge
May all my strange thoughts recede
And when I touch my baby’s back to check his temperature
Let all my troubles leave me
and not confuse my thoughts.
Give me the strength to wash my face
So that each one of my children
Will see his face in mine
Like a mirror cleaned for a holiday.
And may the darkness that is sunk within
My face---be covered with light.
So that my patience not break nor my throat grow parched
From a troubled thickening scream
May I not become powerless
Against the unknown
And may I never cease for even a moment
To feel the touch of my children’s flesh against my own.
Give me your love so that I will have enough of it in me to stand at my doorway
Sharing it simply as slicing bread and spreading butter each morning anew
The aroma of boiling milk overflowing and the lingering smell of coffee
Is an offering of thanks and an eternal offering
That I do not know how to give.
Translated from the Hebrew by Sharon Green