Translations

ceramic, ceramic tile, ceramic floor tile

October Thoughts

after Jean Follain

Nothing beats

an old wine

savoured alone

as early evening

coppers the hills,

no huntsman now

drawing a bead

on the beasts of the plain.

Our friends’ sisters

(the radio bleats

of wars to come)

look lovelier

(an insect settles

and moves on again).

A Blaze becomes Fire

after Valeria Ferraro

 

The original text’s embrace

the translator has rendered hug

Where there was written antidote

he puts the word cure in its place,

as if he thinks interchangeable

this instant and eternity.

The text writes poverty.

Bruised limbs

are enobled to wounds.

The past’s lineaments

freightless and frigid

become folk memory,

the art of the ancients.

The text reads contumely.

A blaze becomes fire

domesticating

the worst luck going.

The text describes an empty sky;

he translates pellucid.

A woman is darning

in a dark kitchen:

the translator writes sewing.

Mirror

after Wisława Szymborska

 

Yes, I remember that wall
in our ruined city. A block
gutted almost to the sixth floor.
a mirror on the fourth,

unbelievably intact, still
resolutely attached.

It reflected no one’s face now,
no hands tilted a hat,
there was no door opposite,
nothing you could call
a room, or a flat.

It was as if on vacation –
only the busy sky

preened itself there:
clouds wandering in free air,
bright rains rinsing the dust of ruins,
birds in mid-flight,

stars and rising suns . .

And so, like every well-made thing,
it worked on irreproachably,
with a professional want of surprise.

 
 
 
 
Small Ads

after Valeria Ferraro
 
 
Punctilious sophisticated gent could
love you if required, available now, caring,
chestnut hair call-it-blonde, undamaged,
bright, no timewasters, no fly-by-nights . . .
Forty-something single mother, all but
 
roofless, decent inside, nearly
stripped bare, lump in throat, seeks work
anywhere any terms, nights, early mornings . . .
ship’s cabin-boy, blackberry-picker.
Entire lock-up mixed paints must sell . . .
 
Opportunity for opportunist, going concern,
cafe with awning, umbrellas nearly-new,
phosphorescent fishtank. Will pay anything
for encyclopaedia of own life, appendix
included, updates. Disillusioned solo
 
adolescent seeks luminous balcony
to rent, view to die for . . . Bravura
bassist recruiting like-minded keen
insomniacs, well established, rarely
at a loss, intermittent ague, pervasive
 
hangover. Punctilious sophisticated lady
will love you with unquenchable desire,
dedication, total commitment, dark hair,
blue eyes, nearly new, awaits your future,
no time-wasters, night-fliers if only . . .