Motti, Passage from Stenarnas döttrar
(Daughters of the stones)

by Anita Goldman
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The fragrance from the orange groves when they're in blossom is the sweetest thing in the world, Motti thinks. Reaches all the way to the sea. In the winter the sea is quiet, doesn't roar as it does in the summer. They called the winter sea Olja. As boys they rolled in the sand dunes all the way down to the edge of the sea. The smell of the sea, of the orange groves, the gentle winter sun. Later, on a day exactly like this, he made love for the first time to Tami in a sand dune like this. She was from the neighboring kibbutz and the blue Young Guard shirt slid over her large breasts. She cried when he forced himself into her and afterward they found blood in the sand. He said he loved her. They were so young. What did they know about love?

Then in the early summer the war broke out. She was also in the army, folded parachutes. They used to joke that one day he would be issued precisely her parachute. 'From Tamara—Good luck.' But of course it never happened. They were so young. How old was Ilan? Nineteen? Twenty? Good Lord.

Motti stares at the Jaffa oranges on the wall in his office in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He cries. He tries to imagine Avi as a father in mourning but doesn't succeed. They've grown apart in recent years. Motti's visits at Pesach are so short: Passover seder, excursions to the sea, evenings at the kibbutz and in the village of Bin Karem. Noise from children, a little gossip, you have time to do so little. Sometimes Avi has flown here for a few days. Medical conferences and so on. A drink in his hotel room, dinner at Jossi's, a visit to the house, show him Tami and the girls. Motti cries. He is a warm and sentimental man, laughs and cries easily. Was popular among the recruits, a good-tempered officer with no desire to bully them. Just a little long-winded, a little pompous sometimes: when he began to talk about the Homeland, why-we're-here-guys. Then they laughed at Motti, but never unkindly. Motti was a man you could depend on. He never took unnecessary risks and always led the charge. It was the same thing at the kibbutz. Motti was popular, worked hard, took the heaviest load, out in the field, in the fish ponds. Motti liked the work; the wind from the sea and the smells from the earth and the sun and the working of his muscles and the camaraderie. The kibbutz liked him back. Josef and Chava's son was of good and loyal stock. Gideon was also okay but stood a little in the shadow of his powerful big brother. And the youngest, Avi, was different. More delicate, more restrained, a little reserved. Didn't like the army and couldn't imagine working the soil all his life. He was the best in his class and disappeared to the capital and the university as soon as he possibly could. Married a foreign, upper-class girl, while Motti married Tami. Yes, it was funny how it all turned out the way it did. That Motti is now sitting here in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, while Avi is living in Israel.

Translated by Marilyn Johns Blackwell.

ISBN 0-8032-4286-7, © 2004 by University of Nebraska Press.   All rights reserved.

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