TOUCHSTONE
ART LIT ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY STAFF

Depart and never return

They told us

 

Forget about Spain

They told us

 

Do not dare to live in any of our cities, towns, and villages

They told us

 

Under penalty of death

They told us

 

Banished, you are banished from all our kingdoms

They told us

 

We have made quince jam from the fruit of the trees

We have drunk the wine from the sweet grapes

We have bathed in these rivers

We have welcomed with our faith the new moon

We have loved, brought up our children, buried our dead in this red earth

We have written poems in Hebrew, Arabic, Castilian

We have built modest synagogues, nothing comparable to your cathedrals

We have recited prayers for peace with our souls as open as the sea

We have wished for a mazal bueno to those who surrendered to your Cross

 

We have been here for more than a thousand years, generation upon generation

We have put down roots so deep, how can we leave this soil?

Cities with such beautiful names—

Toledo, Barcelona, Segovia, Zamora, Córdoba

 

Pretend you won’t remember us

Pretend you won’t miss us

Pretend you won’t see us lurking in the shadows

 

Sefarad is our home, Spain is our Sefarad

Who are you to take Sefarad and Spain from us?

 

Weep for my people, who are shutting the doors and clasping the keys

Weep for my people, who are filling the boats at the port of Cádiz

Weep for my people, who are sweating in the damp heat of summer

Weep for my people, who are carrying the Torah on their shoulders

Weep for my people, who are glancing back, seeing only a Moor wave goodbye

Weep for my people, who are bemoaning their lives, wishing only to die

Weep for my people, who are going forth into another exile

Weep for my people, who are furious for having loved Sefarad so much

Weep for my people, who are wondering if Sefarad was only a dream

 

Many autumns have passed

Look—

Already my people are drying their tears

Already my people are bowing to another shore

Already a cry rises from my people:

I won’t weep anymore

I won’t weep anymore

 

Hijica, hear the song inside our hearts

It’s sweet and sad and beautiful and broken

It’s all that we kept:

the nostalgia for the sad breeze of Spain

RUTH BEHAR

DREAMS OF SEFARD

Poetry