Wednesday, September 29, 2010

One Silent Sheet

from Compromise
By Akhtar-ul-Iman


...People dream and ride the high winds,
then reach a stage when they weep bitterly
and break like branches.
They find loved ones,
the focus of their desires and lives,
then come to hate them
even while loving them still.

I hate her, she despises me.
But when we meet
in the loneliness, the darkness,
we become one whole, like a lump of kneaded clay,
hatred leaves, silence stays,
the silence that covered the earth
after it was created,
and we go on breaking
like branches.

We don't talk about the dreams we once dreamt,
we don't talk about the joys,
we simply go on breaking.

I'm fond of drinking,
she's addicted to smoking,
wrapped in a sheet of silence we cling to each other,
we go on breaking
like tender branches.

--Translated by C.M. Naim and Vinay Dharwadker

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

One Jammed Highway

from Snow Is Falling
By Tomas Tranströmer

The funerals keep coming
more and more of them
like the traffic signs
as we approach a city.

--Translated by Robin Fulton

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ten Good Fingers

from Lullaby

This little girl
only born to
gather wild roses.

Only born to
shake the wild rice loose
with her little fingers.

Only to collect the sap
of young hemlocks
in spring….

little girl was
only born to
gather wild roses.

--Tsimshian/Pacific Northwest Indians

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

One Cornered Room

from Purdah
By Imtiaz Dharker

…Purdah is a kind of safety.
The body finds a place to hide.
The cloth fans out against the skin
much like the earth that falls
on coffins after they put dead men in.

People she has known
stand up, sit down as they have always done.
But they make different angles
in the light, their eyes aslant,
a little sly.

She half-remembers things
from someone else’s life,
perhaps from yours, or mine –
carefully carrying what we do not own:
between the thighs, a sense of sin.

We sit still, letting the cloth grow
a little closer to our skin.
A light filters inward
through our bodies’ walls.
Voices speak inside us,
echoing in the places we have just left.

She stands outside herself,
sometimes in all four corners of a room.
Wherever she goes, she is always
inching past herself…


Passing constantly out of her own hands,
into the corner of someone else’s eyes
while the doors keep opening
inward and again


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

One Tailored Suit

In the middle of life, death comes
to take your measurements. The visit
is forgotten and life goes on. But the suit
is being sewn on the sly.

--Tomas Tranströmer