Sunday, 30 October 2011

gellu naum

After all

After all I remember perfectly the day
when my seven mothers birthed me

(among them one, uniquely primordial,
knew the joys of conception
one who no longer knew how to read or write
her octogenarian arms rocking me
as the four-eyed cat of death
nestled on her shoulders
I worked hard to be lighter

The other six mothers sang
transfigured by labor pains
I slept serenely in each of them
slept cowering in their thighs their knees
slept purely in their maternal purity
bread, milk and honey close by
and memories of Amsterdam
the world fashioned peacefully all around

on the fourth day waters a world with fish and reeds
with the man from the Hotel Alger who lost his mouth on the sixth day

a world of suns and snows on the ninth day

but my octogenarian mother’s arms were tired
(the cat around her shoulders purring scarcely audible)
and I wanted to be lighter

Then I sat by the fire
sitting in my geomantic suit
slowly shaking a hazelnut switch
right there by the fire trying to be lighter

The other five mothers fell silent
aggrieved by my unexpected gesture
Why–I asked them–do you look at me so
My old mother’s arms exhausted
and I wanted to be lighter
would have gone to sleep in an apple
but I didn’t want to complicate your perpetual maternity

They shook their heads in remonstrance
and closed themselves off to me

Then on the tenth day
dogs started to bark
and witnesses crept into the room.

trans by martin woodside and chris tanasescu
see more of their translations here

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