Thursday, 31 March 2011

Two Poems

from Territorial Song [Territorialsang, 1994]
by Pia Tafdrup

A CITY IN HEAVEN

My blood has many relatives.
They never visit.

Yehuda Amichai

The eye in its cave turns the horizon round
birds circling in the air
Born in Warsaw, born in Budapest, born in Kiev
Born in Moscow, born in Berlin, born in Craiova
in Sofia, in Prague – they come to the city of David

A language they leave, letters from home
go up this generation or the next in smoke and oblivion
or vanish in the glowing ether’s sphere
In the light from wax candles they drown themselves out
and the family is only visited in dreams

The eye in its cave turns the horizon round
birds circling in the air
heavenly bodies glide in their paths
They live under evening-warm clouds now with desert mist and wine
cut bread in slices, eat figs and pomegranates
know the rocket shelter as well they do the prayers
they recite, and the songs of blood, milk and honey

They have cuddled one another wearing gas masks
children they lose in the war-
that-never-stops
They celebrate holy days and will be buried here
to awaken the earth with their longing

The eye in its cave turns the horizon round
birds circling in the air
heavenly bodies glide in their paths
words intertwine and let go in winged song
Born in Warsaw, born in Budapest, born in Kiev
Born in Moscow, born in Berlin, born in Craiova
in Sofia, in Prague…



HORIZON

Like grains of salt held forth
Jerusalem sprouts
up from the mountain

Red and pink limestone
a desert all round
that obeys and flowers

Time
is momentary
and millennial

Wind harp
shifting sand
evening sun

Voices
graze the ear
that scans the pain:

In the darkness under a hatch for fishing tackle
my father and his family in a cutter
across the Sound to Sweden

On the bottom of another boat my grandfather
and on a shelf in the engine room
my mother and her mother…

Count the many
see the one
nothing must be limited, no one be forgotten

Each consciousness its tell*
a memory
that keeps the dread awake

The day is great
as a stone of burden
I lean towards the silent paper

Spin a life-thread.



*tell - from Hebrew tel, a heap of ruins, a mound that forms an archaeological site.


0translated from Danish by David McDuff

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