‘My father in a white space suit’ (1976)

Yehuda Amichai

Oxford English Dictionary (OED) Links On

My father, in a white space suit,
walks around with the light, heavy steps of the dead
over the surface of my life that doesn’t
hold onto a thing.

He calls out names: This is the Crater of Childhood.
This is an abyss. This happened at your Bar Mitzvah. These
are white peaks. This is a deep voice
from then. He takes specimens and puts them away in his gear:
sand, words, the sighing stones of my dreams.
He surveys and determines. He calls me
the planet of his longings, land of my childhood, his
childhood, our childhood.

“Learn to play the violin, my son. When you are
grown-up, music will help you
in difficult moments of loneliness and pain.”
That’s what he told me once, but I didn’t believe him.

And then he floats, how he floats, into the grief
of his endless white death.

Learn more about the language of this poem in the
Oxford English Dictionary:

Bar Mitzvah, n.