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Celebrating Women In Translation!

August is Women in Translation month and we wanted to celebrate by sharing a selection of brilliant authors from all over the world whose work we've published. Enjoy!


Salt 
Anamika
INDIA
 
Salt is earth’s sorrow and its taste.
Earth’s three-fourths is brackish water,
and men’s heart a salt mountain.
Weak is salt’s heart,
very quickly it melts,
it sinks in shame
when plates are flung
due to salt’s varied strength.
There stands—
a government building—
like a salt shaker—
shakes with much sophistication, sprinkles
salt in my wound.
Women are the salt of the earth,
they have all the salt in the mould of their face.
Ask those women
how heavy it feels—
their saline faces?
All those determined to pay the salt’s price,
all those who couldn’t betray their masters
have annoyed the seven seas and
the revolutionaries.
Gandhi knew the salt’s worth
as the girl-guava-sellers.
Whether or not something
stays in the world,
there shall always be salt.
God’s tears and man’s sweat—
this is salt
that balances the earth.
 
Translated from the Hindi by Sudeep Sen
 

 

On the Bank of River Sobat
Nylawo Ayul
SUDAN
 
On the bank of River Sobat
a detached umbilical cord is buried
and five words I kept in my pocket
isolation and wisdom
light and virtue
and the shade of a vague pain on thick lips
My lips shooting at a hollow point
My mouth trying to shed off the burden of words
and the dagger.
Among the burnt grass I went searching
for the old pastures
for a fallen mango fruit
for a wave with a golden light
pointing to the direction of eternity
to the south
The abode of the papaya
in the warm land
The grazing heaven for cattle
and the sticky clay bond–
But what I saw was a bird
carrying the blue silence toward the Nile
The water's sadness was pink
The decomposed fish
The sum of daily carnage
The war mark on the body of the south
And yeah–the tall stalks of grass
They die when elephants choose them as battleground
and the tall folks cherishing the dream
of a south simple and beautiful
but they die in war.
 
Translated from the Arabic by Adil Babikir
 

 

Pastel
Ana Blandiana
ROMANIA
 
My country deprived of fruit,
abandoned by leaves,
abandoned by the grapes
migrated prudently in wine.
My country betrayed by the birds
somersaulted in haste
in the wondering yet still clear sky,
 
forever content,
smelling of grasses
that pass away in the melting sun,
faithful spiders
weaving white webs
to bind up
the place of leaf, empty.
 
At night, baked stars
ferment your sky,
the wind flows the day
strong and bitter.
The hours measure your
walnuts falling
and light you
quinces decently.
 
Translated from the Romanian by Daria Florea
NOTE: This poem first appeared in the Australian e-magazine Mascara Review.
 

 

Under Abundant Shades
Najlaa Osman Eltom
SUDAN
 
For some vague reason,
I still remember her face:
the tea-seller,
a teenager,
boiling the heavenly water of the Nile
in her fresh mint,
and with her thin hand,
mixing milk and sugar.
O little girl!
Sweating out patience,
under the ruthless sun;
you are the carnation of this dark, rotten street,
packed with men
prudently chasing your defiant dress
and in the comfort of their abundant shades
grumbling about the heat.
 
Translated from the Arabic by Adil Babikir
 

 

Sweet Death Lamented In Cello
Ervina Halili
KOSOVO
 
The walls of her room are music
Swans death lamented in cello
Soul breeze is outside
Head disease under woolen hats
Grandma, grandma
Why do you have such big eyes
I daydream a lot my sweet little child
I daydream a lot
 
The ceiling of her room is sea
Soul raining is pouring outside
Misery mushrooms under the bared feet
Grandma, grandma
Why is your mouth so big
To swallow the pain my sweet little child
To swallow the pain
 
In her room the bed has a fever
Outside the black sheep get puffed
Grandma, grandma
Why don’t you ever ask me about my sound sleep
Because I am sleepy my sweet little child
We are all sleepy
Sleep
 
Translated from the Albanian by Fadil Bajraj
NOTE: This poem first appeared in Poetry from Five Continents, an Anthology of Struga Poetry Evenings.
 

 

In Heaven Everything Is Fine
Κaterina Iliopoulou
GREECE
 
A small room
A window looking at the sea
The bare landscape, the geological unfoldings
Each day countless times you sketch them with your eyes
The body follows them
And one small window opposite the bed
Black hills at night
And crickets
 
We came here to be alone
But we aren’t
We aren’t alone
There are rooms hewn out of the rock
There’s a city
When we lie there for hours
In the stone cradles
We adapt our body to theirs
Inside the dens of salt
We let their hands burn our palms
We wear the heavy cloak of their breathing in the heat
 
It’s summer you think that
There will never be clouds again or green grass
Little flowers of the rocks.
Trapped in a children’s drawing
Yellow and blue
Thickly painted everywhere
And we two dots
In a prehistoric room
On these rocks we burn with them
Like immortals
One on top of the other
One for the other
One inside the other
One against the other
The small stone temple in the center
An eye completely exposed
From there you can truly weep
Looking up at the sky
 
You are so alone when you sleep
You are never alone when you sleep
Never beyond the reach of my hand
Your body lies
And words
A thread
Which we draw from each other’s mouths
Erecting a building one can pass through.
Thus when we’re together
We find ourselves at once inside and outside the world
Words are survival
In the midst of multiplicity
As if the future existed
 
Simulation of Paradise
Even the greatest euphoria
Leaves us naked
Annihilated
Lost
“Not more sky and stars,
Please, let’s put on the light so I can read”
 
Translated from the Greek by John O'Kane
NOTE: This poem first appeared in Greek in the book The book of soil.
 

 

The stones in your garden
Vénus Khoury-Ghata
LEBANON
 
The stones in your garden speak louder than the people passing by
they claim an ancestry that goes back to the first cave
when two flintstones controlled fire
and a pauper wind swept the brambles of an alphabet gone deaf
 
Things being what they were
you had only to grasp a stone in your hand to feel the planet’s vibrations
sense a volcano’s insurrection
the cry of a mountain collapsed by an ant
 
Hold back your hand when the sunset draws its last circle on your wall
the sun is not a drum
and the discussion between darkness and asphalt doesn’t concern you while your shadow follows you by a finger and an eye
You walk and your destinations print themselves on your feet
 
Translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker
From Prairie Schooner Volume 88, Number 4
 
 

 

The Knife and the Knife
Hyesoon Kim
KOREA
 
A knife loves a knife.
 
It loves in midair, like a thing without feet.
 
The knife that falls in love is not a knife. It is a magnet.
 
Look at them shine as they draw each other in!
 
Two knives scattering sweat let out a cry,
 
cross each other for a moment in midair, lie down
shimmering, and gaze out in the same direction.
 
How many times has that shine severed the cherry blossoms every April,
the moment they aim from some secret place and strike each other!
 
For their love to end, one must bring its body down to earth.
 
But like the dancer in red shoes, it is able to go on
loving and loving
 
and it is able to survive, holding on to the sharp body that it can’t stop loving
but it cannot separate and leave.
 
It was supposed to be able to come down from midair.
 
Blood pours out from four straight knees that cannot fall down.
 
That body has a hole like mine. Get rid of that black hole.
Stab it so its insides can flow out.
 
Wash your face with the warm blood.
 
No matter how hard I scream it will never soften,
this abominable love.
 
So now should I tell you how my love was holding up a sharp body in midair?
 
How I could not place my two feet on solid earth?
Isn’t it wonderful? Our love like this, still suspended in midair?
 
Translated from the Korean by Vanessa Falco and Sunghyun Kim
From Prairie Schooner Volume 90, Number 3
 

 

Old News
Luljeta Lleshanaku
ALBANIA
 
In the village nestled between two mountains
the news always arrives one month late,
cleansed in transit, glorified, mentioning only the dead who made
 
it to paradise,
and a coup d’état referred to as “God’s will.”
 
Spring kills solitude with solitude, imagination
the sap that shields you from your body. Chestnut trees
awaken, drunken men
lean their cold shoulders against a wall.
 
The girls here always marry outsiders and move away,
leaving untouched statues of their fifteen-year-old
selves behind.
 
But the boys bring in wives
from distant villages,
wives who go into labor on heaps of grass and straw in a barn
and bear prophets.
Forgive me, I’d meant to say “only one will be a prophet.”
The others will spend their lives throwing stones
(that is part of the prophecy, too).
 
At noon on an autumn day like today
they will bolt out of school like a murder of crows stirred by the
smell of blood,
and chase the postman’s skeleton of a car
as it disappears around a corner, leaving only dust.
 
Then they will steal wild pears from the “bitch’s yard”
and nobody will stop them. After all, she deserves it. She’s sleeping
with two men.
 
Between the pears in one boy’s schoolbag
lies a copy of Anna Karenina.
It will be skimmed over, impatiently, starting on the last page,
cleansed and glorified, like old news.
 
Translated from the Albanian by Henry Israeli
NOTE: This poem first appeared in the books Child of Nature and Haywire: New & Selected.
 

 

My Aunt Hà
Lu Thi Mai
VIETNAM
 
When I was born, my aunt no longer lived;
yet she returned often in the dreams of my parents.
She smiled at me sadly and looked at me lovingly.
When she was twelve,
bombs were dumped onto our village school.
Her new lilac-colored shirt was torn to shreds.
My family said goodbye to her and to a hundred others.
 
When I was born, my aunt no longer lived;
people believed she was reincarnated in my body
and in the smiles budding like flowers on my lips.
Her friend who was lucky enough to escape death
said my aunt was smiling just before the bombs,
happy at the perfect score she had just received
for learning by heart the song of hope—
the song about the blueness of the sky,
the song about doves taking flight.
 
When I was born, my aunt no longer lived.
Now, even her grave no longer exists.
It was swept away by a surging storm some years ago.
Yet she returns often in dreams.
She doesn't cry as the living do;
she says that where she is the sunlight warms her
and peace settles on the tips of cỏ tranh1 grass.
She looks at me and praises the young woman I have become.
 
My father sees in the clusters of the wild grass,
the reawakening of my dear aunt's happiness.
 
1A type of grass grown in the wild, known as blady grass, cogon grass, or Japanese bloodgrass. The common Vietnamese people use cỏ tranh as a herbal medicine; its healing powers cure a range of illnesses.
 
Translated from the Vietnamese by Nguyen Phan Que Mai and Kwame Dawes
 

 

The Secret of Hoa Sen
Nguyen Phan Que Mai
VIETNAM
 
The eyelid of night lifted me onto a sampan,
floating among the humming lotus.
Hoa sen; my darling called out their name
so their perfume blossomed onto his lips,
unveiling the mist of a world
that I didn’t know existed.
 
The hoa sen swayed, shivered, breathless.
‘‘Hold me,’’ he said, as if from another life.
 
When I reached for the world of his face,
I could taste our longing on his skin,
glistening with a new sun
rising between us.
 
Only the hoa sen
witnessed how I became
the flower
that trembled on the chest of light.
 
Translated from the Vietnamese by Nguyen Phan Que Mai and Bruce Weigl
From Prairie Schooner Volume 88, Number 2
 

 

Day of Celebration
Yanira Marimón
CUBA
 
They have placed the vessels equidistant.
A few people have fanned the fire
with coal and logs.
 
In the ancient history classes it happened like this:
everyone gathered around the fire.
 
They highlighted a picture of pale light
and strong wind beginning to blow.
 
Never have the streets seemed so empty.
Never have humans seemed so empty.
 
Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Randall
from Prairie Schooner Volume 90, Number 2
 

 

Hide-out
Elisa Mastromatteo
URUGUAY
 
We had to get out
run
get on the first bus
and fly
or not,
but get out.
Grab all the most
precious things
or the things will simply
go after us,
because over there
we will not take care of things
it is not necessary there
to keep anything under key
we will go there
to save ourselves.
 
Yes, ourselves.
From the world.
 
Translated from the Spanish by Orlando Menes
From Prairie Schooner Volume 89, Number 2
 

 

Memory of a father (For Djamal Amrani)
Samira Negrouche
ALGERIA
 
Passive as a bird who sees
all, in his flight, and keeps in his heart
while he flies through the sky the consciousness
that does not forgive
Pier Paolo Pasolini, Poesia en forma di rosa
 
A memory of a father
lives in my deep solitudes
Rimbaud’s solitudes
and his rotting leg
amputated
at conception
 
*
 
legs and basements
rotten
to finish off poets like
the soul of Jean Sénac
who don’t stop
haunting me
 
*
 
must make do with that
be born with that
and sperm spilled
into wombs
as fast as possible
discharged into the body
and the shadows
 
*
 
a knee places itself
gently on the fold of life
then all of the head and the body
take shape
in the imperfect curve
of that leopard man
at the start of the race
and they take off to caress
the horizon
 
*
 
it’s a wandering
soul
in search of memory
solitary, forgetful
intending to wash
in torrents of rain
and blood
 
*
 
memory of your back
impotent, arthritic
and the lead weights
never entirely
detached from it
 
*
 
you still bow down
in front of heavy
black shoes
 
you bow down before
your own legs in short pants
fleeing the furious violent
schoolmaster
 
*
 
still you bow down
before your mother’s mountains, the Djurdjura
and your tears of mourning
the ones hidden behind
closed, dirty windowpanes
farewells one does not want to
utter
that one never knows how to
pronounce
that you go on
tearing
from the genealogy
of my words
 
Translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker
from Prairie Schooner Volume 92, Number 2
 

 

The Dry Dung Collector
Nguyet Pham
VIETNAM
 
Dirt clods, dry straw, and reed spread out to dry
Rain falls sparingly, intensifying the heat 
that erodes, exudes
I search for a turbid stream that appeared to me in a dream
But find only the quiet dike suppressing the water's angry rush
Among lotus fragrant and white like a young girl's bosom
I search for my aunt—quick of feet, redolent of rice paddy, grass
Always ready with her afternoon sweets every time I return 
The last time I returned
I did not see the vendors with their poles and baskets
Save those who bent low, lower, behind the thick rumps of cattle, 
To collect dung that barely had a chance to dry
My wrinkled aunt who seemed to shrink smaller with each day fought to buy her share of cow dung 
Everyone eagerly collected dung, heaping sadness, joy, love, and hatred onto the moving truck
Gone are the little docile cows with sad pretty eyes
Gone are the insolent peasants who mocked the ostentatious way of gentlefolk
Gone are my five-year-old self's memories amidst the noise of dung being scooped
Gone are dung pellets on roads filled with sugarcane
Gone are fried sesame cakes and molasses-brown spoons of sugar
Gone is the scent of the countryside
Auntie still rushes off to buy me snacks
But everything has changed.
 
Translated from the Vietnamese by Thuy Dinh 
 

 

In an Unknown Country
Anzhelina Polonskaya
RUSSIA
 
In an unknown country
I’m now Frau R.
With eyes blue as the sky.
 
Anglo-Saxons
drop me postcards
with mountain views.
 
I’d like to lie down on a hospital bed,
lay there immobile
for many years.
 
Until the bowstring
stops vibrating in my throat.
And my whites smell of soap.
 
And at a set time a humble nun
would come
and rub my icy shoulder blades.
 
She’d have a black braid
in her hair,
and her wrinkles would smooth out
when she bends over me.
 
She’d answer silence with silence
not asking for love or God.
 
Translated from the Russian by Andrew Wachtel
from Prairie Schooner Volume 90, Number 3
 

 

Kahrizak*
Fereshten Panahi
IRAN
 
They came as I was getting ready
For the evening.
I put my hair in a ponytail and
Was lying on the old velvet couch
Drinking tea.
 
They don’t mind anyone’s business.
They didn’t mind me. They asked:
Which party do you belong to?
I answered: the wind.
They laughed.
I laughed.
 
I must remember
If I ever leave again through this door
To tell them to oil the hinges.
They’re far too noisy.
 
*Kharizak is an infamous prison in the city of Tehran
 
Translated from the Persian by Mahnaz Badihian
 

 

Snow White
Adélia Prado
BRAZIL
 
I fit better in the world
if I accept what I had judged impossible:
‘‘Not every German knows Mozart.’’
Of course—it’s not required.
But every country has its universal,
and that’s all it takes for us to understand each another.
I feel at home with the Russians
because they can’t see a trace of fog,
a trickle of river, a flower in the grass
without stopping to spew diminutives for interminable minutes.
Just like the bandit Riobaldo who knows the whole world—
and has Minas Gerais in the palm of his hand.
Hyperbole gets me closer to where I want to go.
Wasn’t Christ’s ‘‘Perverse generation of vipers’’
an exaggeration, a way to release his rage?
The Scribes and Pharisees took him seriously.
But all of them? Really?
The majority of us smell bad,
and we all suffer in fear. The body wants to exist,
and sounds distressing alarms.
I lean toward anything apocryphal, like someone digging for treasure.
Very Christian, the dwarves in the story
whistling while they work.
Deep down, we all want
to know biblically,
in spite of the footnotes
mad to clean things up,
and not always helpful.
The true thing is dirty,
necessarily dirty.
God’s sweetness is not a nicety.
If I were brave, I’d say the things
that make me ashamed
and some people would hate me,
wounded by embarrassment.
Thank God I’m fearful,
the instinct for survival
turns my tongue kind.
I accept praise
for exhibiting ‘‘selective judgment.’’
When asked, I give a list of good movies.
I’m slow to learn
that a straight line is perfectly uncomfortable.
I’m curved, mixed, and broken,
I’m human. Like a crazy person,
I beat my head simply to enjoy the delight
of the pain vanishing when I stop.
 
Translated from the Portuguese by Ellen Doré Watson
From Prairie Schooner Volume 88, Number 4
 

 

A Beetle's Life
Dahlia Ravikovitch
ISRAEL
 
A black beetle slowly makes her way
and you say: How ugly.
Body hunched, eyes undeterred,
she got here from Pakistan.
Give that black beetle some attention,
attention must be paid,
she came here to work and to dream
of a future bright
and brief
which, as beetles go, is the very height
of happiness.
Do her no harm,
she asks only your pity
and goes on crawling.
In her foolish heart of hearts
every beetle’s aware
you will not take pity on her,
will not do her bidding.
 
Translated from the Hebrew by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld
From Prairie Schooner Volume 88, Number 4
 

 

Snow In Your Shoes
Ana Ristovic
SERBIA
 
One does not build a house collecting cutlery
even though a few extra spoons
come in handy sometimes.
 
One does not build a house from new curtains
even though different views
from time to time
should be shielded by new cloth.
 
For a home to be a home, among other things
you need a lot of things
you would gladly renounce
in advance.
 
Listen to what Eskimos say:
to build a good igloo,
for years you have to carry
snow in your shoes.
 
And a safety pin, forgotten
in your coat collar,
near the jugular.
 
Translated from the Serbian by Novica Petrovic
NOTE: This poem first appeared in the anthology New European Poets.
 

 

Feast Time
Rati Saxena
INDIA
 
Give me such a timetable
where my own time isn’t there.
 
Then give me a timetable
where only my own time exists.
 
I will drink both timetables
like thick milky-mango-juice.
 
Then time will be inside me,
and I will be free of it.
 
Translated from the Hindi by Rati Saxena and Sedeep Sen
 

 

from In Praise of Poetry
Olga Sedakova
RUSSIA
 
There is a parable, I do not remember whose, about art in the time of its enchantment with objectivism. By the bed of a dying woman are her husband, a doctor, and an artist. Who sees the events more fully? The artist, who is completely uninvolved, then the doctor, and then the loving husband, who, in fact, is unable to see anything. But, it is precisely the other way round. The one who sees things most fully is the one to whom the events are happening, whose mind they are altering. There is no one who can answer Job’s question. To put the poet in the place of the person experiencing the event is what Rilke wanted. It sometimes seems that his speeches delivered by a suicide, statue, or madman are contrived, that they are rhetorical exercises in the vein of Ovid’s ‘‘Heroides.’’ They express themselves in an utterly sculpted manner. But more often it is not so, and they overwhelm us as extraordinary confessions. Why do we wish to see the author as real and ask him: were you really in the madman’s place? Maybe for the sake of the word, for the sake of its being heard through to the end (like atheists from simple folk: Look, I’ll say there’s no God—will lightning strike me?). Or, on the contrary, for the love of reality itself, for the love of what reality is not: neither a burden, nor nonsense, nor the dross of inner life where all this lightning really does strike.
 
Translated from the Russian by Caroline Clark
From Prairie Schooner Volume 88, Number 4
 

 

Feasting: A Letter from Lesbos
Mandakranta Sen
INDIA
 
Blood is on her face, chest; blood is in between her legs—
This wild smell of blood has made me crave and beg.
 
This fleshy smell of blood has made me lust for more—
In the sea of desire, this is the triangular shore.
 
Is she a man, or a woman?—Who’s there to determine?
I’ve seen her in the dark—she is my light, she’s mine.
 
Translated from the Bengali by Mandakranta Sen and Sudeep Sen
 

 

Who will die tonight?
Fadwa Soleiman
SYRIA
 
Who will die tonight?
Tonight
we hear the voices of machine guns
not death’s footsteps
Who guides the bullet to choose who dies?
The one who fires the gun?
The bullet?
Death itself?
The one who dies?
Or you, hiding we don’t know where,
or you, who we call by name?
Who will rest among us?
The sniper?
The bullet?
The one who stays behind to count the dead
or the one who waits because the sniper missed his target?
The one far away struck with sadness
not knowing why
or the one who died?
All my grief!
Dear world, dear universe
they were killed
they were killed
good people killed by other good people
Is there a candle in this darkness?
Is there a guide for those who leave tonight so they’ll arrive at the
threshold of light?
and not at the threshold of new darknesses?
Where are we?
And who are we?
And where does this path lead?
Is time moving through us
while it starts and ends with us?
Will it leave with us to reach a different time?
Dear world, dear universe
I would like to swim in you like an invisible seed
inaudible too
but felt
I would like to leave this place
I would like to climb toward you, toward you
 
Translated from the Arabic by Marilyn Hacker
from Prairie Schooner Volume 91, Number 3
 

 

Female Fish
Chia Chi Tu
HONG KONG
 
The female fish lay helpless on her palm—
her moist softness recalled a girl’s skin at seventeen
but the slight bulge in her abdomen defined her womanhood,
her clear but empty eyes, the hint of a mother’s gentleness lingering.
She remembered the seafood stall in the market just a moment ago—
the fishmonger’s knife slitting open the white jade belly of the fish,
a thread of blood water oozing from the cut,
a mass of roe pouring out like sands of gold.
 
Waking that morning, she found a patch of blood, irrelevant on her bed.
Her watery face, untouched by cosmetics, would be paler than usual those few       days.
Even harder to bear would be the piercing pain of a few awls in her tummy.
Wearing her plain haircut and school uniform, she sat in the old-fashioned      classroom,
listening to the teacher’s explication of the meaning of life as joy after suffering
but noticing instead the teacher’s three-inch stilettos and her luscious lips.
 
That night, the tide ebbed and flowed, bringing the Creator’s command—
Tonight, it is tonight, all creatures in the water must mate.
Squid tentacles vibrated in urgency—a couple dancing in passion.
All the male fish swam in hot pursuit just behind the female fish,
awaiting the most masculine moment in the intermittent welcome and      rejection.
Riding the crests of her breathing were the enormous waves beating inside her      body.
Rainbow corals emitted their spawn all at once like flowers raining from      heaven.
She was a woman, she was a fish, she rose from the water,
moonlight glistening on her white body, almost transparent.
She pressed every inch of moonlight into her naked skin.
In her female intuition, she knew from then on she would be sensuous and      beautiful.
Some fluid flowed down the root of her thigh.
On the golden sand beside her footprints were a few drops of crimson dew.
 
Her face could mist sunlight into moon glow.
Men could not withstand that supernatural wave of attraction.
Yet she is always lost and bewildered.
 
She can never understand why men lust to rise above the many around them.
Every full moon, she raises her head to look at the sky,
a fish floating above the water to gaze at her homeland.
On the moon, she traces the shadow of a woman in grief—
when the woman’s man devoted himself to shooting down all the suns on earth,
she chose exile on the ice and desolation of the moon.
 
She keeps thinking of the shoals of silvery fish gliding freely in the deep ocean      blue.
She keeps thinking of salmon swimming half the globe to give birth in their      first home.
She keeps thinking of salmon caught by fishing boats or swallowed by bears on      their way home before they can leave their eggs.
Is the secret code of life engraved into the palm or is it hidden in the genes?
The flounders’ ecstasy mating tail upon tail is as distant as her last life’s      memory.
So feminine in appearance, she has never performed feminine acts
like cooking dinner for a family, letting a young life grow in her womb.
Only the liquid blood overflowing from the depths of her body and the pain of      her bloated tummy,
as the moon waxes and wanes, once every thirty days—the samsara of death and rebirth…
 
Translated from the Chinese by Agnes S.L. Lam
 

 

Rain in Sibiu
Liliana Ursu
ROMANIA
 
Rain in Sibiu, rain white gray black
the sky like an impenetrable safe
flowers called coins of pity blooming along our fence
on the street a brass band passing
perhaps for a wedding, perhaps a funeral
 
how strange those monstrous rains were
sometimes gray, or white, or black
something indefinable about them, cheap and dreary
like the dog’s stiff body in dew-covered grass
or the tinny score in old movies about Paris
 
even now I wake up from time to time in the dead of night
rain streaming down my shoulders
Johan’s son still playing desperately on his trumpet
next to his hanged father.
 
Translated from the Romanian by Emily Grosholz, Adam J. Sorkin, and Liliana Ursu
From Prairie Schooner Volume 88, Number 4
 

 

A Tribute to Winter
Rugaia Warrag
SUDAN
 
Yesterday at 5:00 p.m.
in a dull, sad street
winter overtook me.
I saw a dream.
A tiny room,
in a house,
hidden in the hearts of thousands of homes.
The light on and we are two lovers;
the light off and we are two lovers,
drinking tea from the same glass,
wrapped in the same blanket,
and warming our bodies
with the song we both love most.
In the comfort of that dream,
returning home at night
feels like coming home,
with a trophy in your school bag.
Bites of the severe cold wind
feel like friendly banter.
Winter's long nights cease to be
a storeroom of boredom
And we cease to be anything but
man and woman.
 
Translated from the Arabic by Adil Babikir