Poem
Zackary Sholem Berger

July 12, 2016


The Shadow
Natan Alterman
From Hebrew: Zackary Sholem Berger

Once there was a man and his shadow.
One night the shadow stood up
took the man’s shoes and coat,
put them on. Passing by
it took the man’s hat from the hook,
trying as well to remove his head —
without success. It took his face off
and put that on too. If that weren’t enough
next morning he went out with his walking stick.
The man ran down the street after him
shrieking to his friends: What a terrible thing!
It’s a shadow! A clown! It’s not me! I’ll
write the authorities! He can’t get away with it! He wailed
bitterly, but little by little got used to it, fell silent, till at last
he forgot about the incident.


Zackary Sholem Berger is a poet, translator, and short story writer in Baltimore, working in Yiddish and English. By day he is a mild-mannered primary care doctor.

What motivates him to create?
As a translator, I feel honored to be able to avoid the whole notion of independent creation, focusing (in my best moments) on nullifying the self in the universe of another. I am the other. Feeling that I represent that other style and mind is a rare exhilaration.