Yehuda Amichai

The Amen Stone

On my desk there is a stone with the word “Amen” on it, a triangular fragment of stone from a Jewish graveyard destroyed many generations ago. The other fragments, hundreds upon hundreds, were scattered helter-skelter, and a great yearning, a longing without end, fills them all: first name in search of family name, date of death seeks dead man’s birthplace, son’s name wishes to locate name of father, date of birth seeks reunion with soul that wishes to rest in peace. And until they have found one another, they will not find a perfect rest. Only this stone lies calmly on my desk and says “Amen.” But now the fragments are gathered up in lovingkindness by a sad good man. He cleanses them of every blemish, photographs them one by one, arranges them on the floor in the great hall, makes each gravestone whole again, one again: fragment to fragment, like the resurrection of the dead, a mosaic, a jigsaw puzzle. Child’s play.

translated by Chana Bloch
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