Saturday Poem

Summary of a Conversation

What does it mean to be authentic,
to run down the middle of Dizengoff Street and shout in Judeo-Arabic
Ana min el-Maghreb, ana min el-Maghreb”?
(I am from the Atlas mountains, I am from the Atlas mountains).

What does it mean to be authentic,
to sit in Café Roval in a colorful robe (an agal and a zarbiyah, kinds of clothing),
or declaim:
my name is not Zohar, I am Zaish I am Zaish (a Moroccan name).
Neither this nor that,
and nonetheless a different language strikes the mouth until gums crack,
and nonetheless spurned and beloved scents pounce
and I fall between the chairs
lost in the jumble of voices.

by Erez Biton
from Timbisert: A Moroccan bird
Publisher: Hakibbutz Hameuchad, Tel Aviv, 2005