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Summer 2011

Improvisation on Yiddish

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I’ve got you in my pocket, Ich hob mir fer pacht.
It sees me and I cannot spell it.

Ich hob dich in bud, which means I see you as if
You were in the bathtub naked: I know you completely.

Kischkas: guts. Tongue of the guts, tongue
Of the heart naked, the guts of the tongue.

Bubbeh loschen. Tongue of my grandmother
That I can’t spell in these characters I know.

I know “Hob dich in bud” which means I see you
And through you, tongue of irony. Intimate.

Tongue of the dear and the dead, tongue of death.
Tongue of laughing in the guts, naked and completely.

Bubbeh loschen, lost tongue of the lost, “Get away
From me” which means, come closer: Gei

Avek fun mir, Ich hob dich in bud. I see you
Completely. Naked. I’ve got you in my pocket.

—Robert Pinsky

Robert Pinsky's Selected Poems was just published. He recently added a new segment to the videos at www.favoritepoem.org.

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