Page 50 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 43

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
walked, the more the hallucinatory shadows cast by his body
circled around him, chilling his blood.
These shadows, made by the earth’s lifeless satellite whose light
seems to Yonatan a “dead silver,” now turn in his imagination into
the ghosts of his past that have been haunting him despite all his
attempts to repress them — just as, earlier in the novel, the full
moon seen by day through the branches of an olive tree reminds
him of a victimized East-European Jew, that is, of the Diaspora
experience which, because o f its shameful weakness and
cowardice, he has been taught since childhood to reject.
These are ghosts, he thought. Of the Syrians we killed [in
a retaliatory army raid in which Yonatan himself was
wounded and decorated for bravery]. O f Rimona on a
white sheet [Yonatan is thinking of his wife after her abor­
tion and also after one of their love-makings — which, in a
previous chapter, he has remembered taking place in “the
light of a full, dead moon”], her autumnal smile dead on her
stone-white face, moonsilver spilled over her naked body.
He saw, death-shadowed, his father’s and mother’s faces,
hers wrenched forceably back, her sinewy throat bared, his
resting on his chest in majestic, melancholy reflection,
bathed in a silvery radiance. And the ruins of Sheikh Dahr
[an Arab village near the kibbutz destroyed and razed in the
1948 war], moonlight pouring down on the claws of its rank
vegetation but not a living soul left just corpses belly up on
the shimmering g round . His eyes wide with ho r ro r ,
Yonatan suddenly understood: only I am still alive, that
means I must be the murderer. It’s I who killed them.
Panicked by this flood of memories, by his overwhelming sense
of guilt that he has never faced up to before, and by his utter
aloneness, Yonatan throws himself to the ground and begins to
fire his rifle wildly — the equivalent of shooting himself with it,
since if the moon has not given him away, the shots almost cer­
tainly will. In fact, he knows it:
When the black silence descended again, absorbing back
into itself the last echoes, Yonatan realized that he was irre­
trievably lost. He slipped a second clip into the rifle, fired it
off in one long burst, and then, inserting his third clip,
raised the gunbarrel slightly, shut his left eye hard, caught