The first stanza of the poem is begins and ends with two lines that are addressed to the אתה, but I would like to address the middle three lines first. These three lines, which each have the same meter and rhyme with each other, call to mind the 9th part of the weekday amidah, ברכת השנה, literally the blessing of the year. Even though it is called a blessing, it is technically a בקשה, or request – the word whose root appears three times in this short stanza. In ברכת השנה, the pray-er requests that God bless the year and all the crops with sufficient water so that all may be satisfied. Conversely, the speaker says, “קשה לחיות השנה,” (that is, this year is not satisfying her) and it is the fields and the water that make the בקשות. Of course, their requests are for blessing and faith, so perhaps it creates a reflexive pattern of requesting the request. It is the very land, the very year, who asks for blessing rather than God. All of this sets us up for the final line of the stanza which jarringly breaks both meter and rhyme. The fields and the sea are praying, but “אתה אינך מבקש דבר. “ The metrical break is intentional: the אתה is redundant, and without it, the meter would have remained intact. The extra subject seems emphatic and even accusatory of the אתה who does not request, who does not pray, who does not believe.
The second stanza focuses on the אני of the poem, and her sleep life. It seems that the word sleep is a play on the above word for year, which is particularly evident in the speaker’s heart’s “שנתו,” which in another context could mean “his year.” This stanza too ends some of its lines with the rhyme of the first paragraph, but these are interspersed with other endings, and the meter also seems to weave in and out. In the speaker’s dream, “her” dead are walking in her sleep – or her year, the year in which it is hard to live. This may, again, be a tangential allusion to the תחית המתים prayer of the amidah, but at the same time, it may simply be the subconscious’s normal expression of response to loss. The burden of silence on her dream goes back to our old motif of the muteness experienced by many of the writers we have studied, but to me, strongly recalls a sense of intertextuality with her earlier poem, “On Nightmares’ Trail,” in which the אתה says her dreams are mute and her experience illusory. In this poem, she perceives the heavy silence, even as her dead re-animate.
Perhaps, she too is among the mute walking dead. In the final stanza, she asks how she can awake from her slumber/year, when she has no faith. The possibility that without faith, she cannot join the waking is chilling, but she implies that faith and prayer are a characteristic of the wakeful living alone. Her repetition of “ואתה אינך מבקש דבר,” as the final line seems to blur the divide between אני and אתה. It seems that neither has the words to pray, and neither may fully live.