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Amanda Aizpuriete

Amanda Aizpuriete

from Outskirts of Babel

The end is near and it's easier to breathe.
“A request for those who don't belong here:
please leave the premises.”

I don't fit. Yes, I don't belong.
When I string dark words into a silent necklace.
Like a child I lose myself and drink the milk of fog
it's this freedom where I don't belong.

I'm a minor victim. I know my price.
And in the list of losses
don't mention me.

* * *

Stay with me in this boat
this night sliding at the top of wind.
The dark is splashing.
A ring on the finger of someone
drowned in the distance
shines like a full moon.
Soon the summer will set behind the horizon
and the dark will have the scent
of wine and decay,
like the forgotten gardens
too full of fruit
that swim through the centuries.

The summer still flows.
Nothing can end yet.
An accidental boat of tenderness
slides over the depths of life.
No matter what else I say to you tonight,
stay with me.

Translated by Margita Gailitis

* * *

Put out the lighthouse beacon!
Let the sea be black.
Anyway, ships don't sail by here now.

Switch off the nightlights!
Anymore, children aren't frightened by dreams.

Take down the scatterbrain flag from the peak of the castle turret.
Anyway, its bright stripes will fade
when black waves unmoor our island tonight.

from Windfall of Poems

At the end it becomes simple: to write letters to gods
when everyone else has changed their address,
when the postman no longer stops at my doorstep,
when the last scrap of paper must be torn in half
because one half is needed for a last will and testament.

The air smells of peppermint
or more crudely — of menthol.
The open window lets shadows in.
So simple — to write letters to gods:
to scatter a handful of bread crumbs moistened with wine
on a scrap of paper offered to the birds outside the window.
When an intoxicated bird sings, even gods take notice.

from The Last Summer

My life as a letter to You
I am writing. In the white-garden bed, I plant
mud-roses and howl-lilies.

My life as a letter to You
I will show to no one.
(Poems are only sails
of daydream's ghostly ships
in some storm shared by all.)

My life as a letter to You
I will leave tacked
on summer's windless cross.
Sharp as a knife
the pungency— mud-roses and howl-lilies.

* * *

You will remain in my memory
like a four-color tattoo in skin—
with the same stabbing pain and simplified line:
like a sea wave from blue pinpoints,
an enchanted forest from green pinpoints,
a red strobe in eyes that are closed,
like the blackest poem, allowed to be shown
only to fire.

Translated by J.C. Todd