At the Maritime Museum

by Yehuda Amichai

I saw clay jars covered with barnacles
that were saved from the ocean bottom,
and thought about the sailors of ancient times
who gave half their lives to sail to those jars,
and the other half to bring them back here.
They did what they had to do, and drowned near the shore.

A woman beside me said, “Aren’t they
beautiful?” and was startled by her words and by me.
Then she walked away into her life,
which is also half a setting out
and half a returning.

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