by S. Chester*
Translated by Lillian Leavitt
|In The Evening
In the small white room my grandma sits,
Her grey head bobs a little
A little lamp, dark and tired
Her head hangs low. She's tired.
Off in a corner, a fly's buzzing
Is it from a heavy heart
Suddenly, grandma lets out a yawn,
A tired eyebrow rises
Very lonely, sits my grandma,
|*Talented writer and poet, born and raised in Koydenov.
In America, he wrote poetry as well as longer stories.
The New Land
I don't know who I am
So here I am - a link in a chain
My grandfather sat in his tiny shul;
by Yacov Chester
Translated by Lillian Leavitt
It's the night before the fair in town. The big fair arrives tomorrow. Everyone is busy, toiling, bustling. The well-known tailor and shoemaker families have already claimed their spots, put up pictures and laid out their wares. Avrom Aaron, the grandfather of the large tailor family stands at his booth, lost in worry. His long, thin, tailor-like hands are thrust into the sleeves of his cape. He stares up at the sky and says Ha, what do you say, Zishe? as he turns to Zishe the fur hat maker who was standing at the entrance of his store. Doesn't the sky look like it's going to rain?
You think I know? Zishe talks into his black beard. Hard to tell - it might and it might not… Old Avrom Aaron doesn't particularly like that response. He removes his hands from the sleeves of his cape, stands silently for another moment and then blurts out So, now you're a wise guy Zishe. You've brought a little money back from America so now you can joke around? Just wait, it won't be long before you have to go back there.
People are out at the taverns all night long. Large electric lamps light up the entire area. The thin layer of mud covering the broad marketplace takes on a shine in the reflection of the lights.
Dobe Hinde, Gnese and Rivke are working hard, busy, sweating. Their dresses are rolled up, raised, tied off on one side. A dark sheer leg of Dobe Hinde's cotton underpants peeks out and it looks like the tall, broad, heavy-set Dobe Hinde has grown a third leg.
Things in Avrom Eli the baker's tent are in a similar bustle. No one is sleeping. Everyone is busy preparing baked goods for the fair. Old Khaye Leye is at the oven while short Hode with her long emaciated fingers forms the bagels and passes them to Khaye Leye. Avrom Eli is in his felt boots, shuffling around the tent, smoking his clay pipe through a small pipe stem that he has made out of a little branch. After each puff, he spits, with more spittle landing in his beard than on the floor.
Zalmen the butcher is frantically racing around as if he's just swallowed poison. He needs a loan, just a few kerbles for the fair. He drops in on Yosl, the tavern keeper. Seeing that Yosl is not home, he is astonished. What?? He asks of Bayle, Yosl's wife, Reb Yosl isn't home yet? He's still at shul? Not that's something to envy. I wish that I could spend time sitting in shul. Bayle smiles. She knows why he's dropped by, but she simply says We'll be having a good fair tomorrow.
Meanwhile the huge market place has filled with wagons. It's hard to pass through. Things will certainly be selling. You know, dearest Bayle, Zalmen starts off in an upbeat tone of voice, Things will really be selling…and I wanted to ask a favor, a small charitable loan. Right after the fair, I'll bring it back with a big thank-you, and after that, I'll bring you a kishke for Shabbes. I've had a stroke of bad luck lately. Everything's gone wrong but I'll pay back every last penny.
Did I say I didn't think you would? Beyle replied, But who's got spare money right before a fair?
Rivke's shop is happy and bustling with action. The big old stall has been cleaned up and is alight with colored lanterns. A girl with painted red checks sits at the entrance selling tickets. She screeches: People, buy your tickets, only fifteen kopeks a ticket. You'll see wonder upon wonder: a blind man will walk a wire; a black bear will make a toast and finish it off with a plate of honey; an old woman will dance a komareske; all this for only 15 kopeks a ticket. A couple of farmers look at each other and smile, slowly walk over to the entrance with tentative steps. They take out their linen purses to look for a few cents, and purchase tickets for themselves.
A group of Jews walk back from shul and stand at a distance. They worriedly look at Rivke's stall with some angst and shake their heads: Just what we need - con artists - in the midst of it all. How could Rivke rent her stall to con artists? Who knows what kind of characters they are? Who knows what they'll do there? They'll take the last dollar out of here - drain the town.
We've waited half a year for this fair Khalane's Elye says. We were hoping to make some money here, make some big sales - and out of the blue - you've got con artists! They arrive when everything's been all set up and now they'll drain the town……
by Yaacov Yosef Shnipper
(the son of Nusan der Boyger [slaughterhouse family])
Translated by Lillian Leavitt
|Natan Shniper, may he rest in peace,
First Koydanover Colonist in Israel
To Koydenov, my dear hometown
I still keep a cord tied
Attached to a cradle there
Standing peacefully by a side.
Pictures of childhood long ago
I see the market with the church in place
Ordinary people walk your streets
Now autumn has arrived,
Along with autumn comes the mud,
Yes, I see you clearly, little town
I am pained to have been far away.
My hand can't shorten the distance
Once I walked in that place
Far gone is now the beastly enemy
Let life pull us up again,
Yes, everyone - without exception
The stream will flow again
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