All the old vocabulary is shuffled
among a heap of useless knowledge
which has accumulated over the years like paperwork.
To speak is to fan the papers across a mental desk,
scanning frantically for a telltale watermark.
The words are all there somewhere.
If I were Israeli, maybe my ignorance
would make me a Gertrude Stein, a Kafka,
a Keret. I would feel out the failures
of language without losing its natural rhythm.
As I attempt Hebrew sentences, all that survives
is absurdity, what writers spend careers cultivating.