Yona Wallach (June 10, 1944 – September 29, 1985)

In the June 10 Haaritz, Linda Zisquit writes: "Had Yona Wallach survived the breast cancer that she chose not to treat – and that ultimately killed her in 1985 – she would have been 70 years old on June 10. Wallach, a controversial diva of Hebrew poetry, attracted censure, admirers and lovers for her eroticism, blasphemy and experimental Hebrew. She is best known for provocative works with fluid gender boundaries like “Jonathan,” from her first book, “Things” (1966); and “Tefillin,” from “Wild Light” (1983), in which a female speaker imagines donning phylacteries in a violent sexual context." (Zisquit translated Wild Light, a selection of Wallach's poems for Sheep Meadow Press published in 1997.) (Tefillin are used in Jewish prayer: two small leather cases containing portions of the Torah , which are wrapped with straps on the forehead and the left arm.)


Come to me
Let me do nothing
You do it for me
Do everything for me
Everything I start to do
You do instead
I will lay tefillin I’ll pray
You lay the tefillin for me
Bind them on my arms
Play with them inside me
Pass them delicately over my body
Rub them against me
Arouse me everywhere
Make me faint with sensations
Run them across my clitoris
Tie up my hips with them
So I can come quickly
Play with them inside me
Tie up my hands and legs
Do things to me
Against my will
Turn me over on my stomach
Put the tefillin in my mouth a bridle bit
Ride me I am a mare
Pull my head back
Until I shriek with pain
And you are pleasured
Later I will pass them over your body
With unconcealed intention
Oh, how cruel my face will be
I will pass them slowly over your body
Slowly slowly slowly
Around your throat I’ll pass them
I will wind one end a few times around your throat
And tie the other to something stable
Something very heavy perhaps rotating
I’ll pull and I’ll pull
Until your last breath escapes
Until I strangle you

tr. Ruth Tsoffar
(from her essay "Staging Sexuality, Reading Wallach's poetry, which includes the poem in Hebrew)