Page 70 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
places were, as now, always used as springboards for emotional
speculation, discussion and reaction. Significantly, Amichai’s
speaker announces that he will preserve his memories as a con­
secrated area into which no one will encroach, an area demar­
cated by urinating its borders, as a dog does.
But now I do what every dog o f memory does,
I howl quietly
and urinate an area o f remembering around me
so no one will enter it. (11)
In an earlier poem dogs appeared in conjunction with the need
to
forget
:
Now I’ll cover the mirror like your pictures
and I’ll lie down to sleep. The fowls o f the air shall eat the flesh
of my sleep,
and the dogs will lick the blood from inside.13
The “area of remembering” which is the speaker’s and no
one else’s property reinforces the notion of camouflage which
is one of the powerful subtexts of
Gam ha-egrof
and, like the
theme of memory, related both to war and creativity.
In Tel
Gat,
the hill upon which the speaker and his children sit is cov­
ered with chrysanthemums, with an allusion to Genesis 6:1 un­
derscoring their power of multiplication. The hill ceases to be
the hill “where I once had battles” but presents a flower-covered
site concealing the implications of the terrain and neutralizing
it, with only the ex-soldier aware of what is obscured under
the carpet of flowers. The hill resembles his “area of remem­
bering”; the chrysanthemums ensure that there will be no in­
trusion on his memories, or discovery of their truth. Since the
real memories remain enclosed within both secluded and pro­
tected areas, even the word “memory” (
zikkaron)
so frequently
summoned in the poetry becomes no more than a framework
or a poetic cloak.
II
The apparently historical-autobiographical narrative constitutes
the core of one of Amichai’s most mock-heroic retrospective
13.
Akhshav ba-ra’ash.
Schocken Books, 1974, p. 32. The reference to 1 Kings
14:6 (and elsewhere) is in the context o f death in battle.