You Can’t Switch Moods

You Can’t Switch Moods

You can’t switch moods
you’ve got to stay put
remain at attention.
A hamsin has struck today: drives sand in, confiscates air.
No matter how far you move from the center
you get sucked in.

There’s no signal.  Suddenly bands of heat drop like party streamers.
Gardens shrink from the hostility, space cowers.

As if it has no history, the hamsin comes at you
isn’t attached to yesterday, doesn’t know
where you were before.  No questions asked.
It spins you into yourself, cracks your faith
that anything else can happen.
Your plans are delayed. Energy withers, it is so dry.

Not a hurricane, nor a tornado so what’s a person to do?
You feel expelled from your own yard
pressed up behind shutters.
Isn’t shaped like spring, doesn’t sprawl like summer,
The last days remain a blur, the only evidence
dust on every table.

Finally, the Gilboa mountain
fills the sky again
with pine trees and pocked boulders.
Reminds me of its contour.
The horizon has returned
the hamsin gone.


Rochelle Mass was born in Winnipeg, Canada, grew up in Vancouver,
Canada and moved with her husband and daughters to Kibbutz Beit HaShita, in the
Jezreel Valley of Israel in 1973.  Today they live in a small community on the
western flank of the Gilboa mountains where they cure and press their olives and
harvest lemons and figs.  Ms. Mass works as a translator and editor.  Ms. Mass’ most
recent poetry collection is The Startled Land, Wind River Press, 2003.  Her work has
been nominated for the Pushcart prize, shortlisted by the B.B.C. for Middle East Stories
and shortlisted again by the BBC for a Radio Play.  She won first and second prize in
the Reuben Rose Poetry Competition.  She has been widely published and we
are grateful to have her among our contributors.