More poetry from Malta



Claudia Gauci

Claudia Gauci

Translated by Maria Grech Ganado


later, in my bedroom, the moon is waiting.
In her lap I throw up my sour day and
fill the night with black seconds, dingy minutes.
I swallow a pill, bitter as your eyes and smile.
Now it's you waiting for me
to undress the night until it dawns.

You're the composer of long sleepless nights
of days ablaze without a setting sun.
Your eyes are manuscripts into which
you scribble heavy notes, hesitant on my lips
startling with black each and every
white virgin page.

I am a symphony trapped in your eyes
waiting to stream like water
from a summer fruit.
Sometimes I am a requiem
eloquent and still.
Look at me, at the funeral in my eyes.
Our story grows quietly,
the language is indelible, destiny is guaranteed,
beginnings are forgotten and the end is misty
in the moment that lives on, beautiful and weak
burning anxiously, afraid of dying,
like the setting sun trapped in a photograph.

Three women, their bodies as subtle as the night
are born to Zeus who loved the dark
of a black mood, like a blind sky.
Their joy is in playing a cruel game,
a carefree game
as with dice as black as pain.
You have to succumb till the day melts away
till the rainbow has turned to coal.
The daughters of night do not sleep, do not yield.
They weave the thread, thin as a hidden vein,
they wrap it tightly round spools of men
till it becomes a second skin
like heat, on a long summer day.

Dagger city plunged in the river's heart
that cries on bridges' shoulders.
Its face is inconsolable but never yields
even when the winds change
and a blue determined sky sinks in its folds
like a diamond lost, forgotten in a gutter.
Men and women, elegant mannequins
rush about, eager to lock
time in a box, then use it
at their pleasure, another cigarette.
The beggar, sidestepped
like slab of fresh cement
attempts to halt the rush
but his look is sunk
in the stinking beer of a long week.

Electric staircases, shiny jaws
in the mouths of stations
swallow everyone down —
the city embraces everything
in its damp womb.
On the train, tired dreams
are sucked to the last drop
by the drowsy neon of the train.
As I sink beneath the City with the masses
I smell the balls of knotted thread,
I feel their mute words choke the mob.
Clammy desires plaster the walls
ugly graffiti of memories,of cracks
that hurt. Someone has let the dice
roll in my lap. I read the numbers
and start filling in the empty spaces
that were left for me
along the chosen sidewalk.

I found myself alone, distracted tourist,
light luggage and a happy passport.

On the Millenium desert bridge
hand in hand with the Cathedral
my steps could be heard echoing
in counterpoint with other steps,
those of a man, a recent stranger.
Behind us the night vibrated
with a strange note. I feared looking
back. Before me the end was nowhere
to be seen. The young man's eyes
were dice. He offered me a wordless game
a hundred meanings. My lips could only
mouth white lacy steam, the cold air
wrap its arm around my waist.
What is the power of a paragraph
in a long story? What is one kiss
reverberating on a deserted bridge?
The dice rests in my hand, the game
is never ending, the beginning easily
forgotten, the end unknown. One
moment's all that's left, to be hidden
or discarded. The river is ready
to keep its secret.

We lie next to each other, our eyes locked.
We do not speak, the moon tastes sweet
upon our lips. I've told you the whole story
and now it's late. A tired day lurks
in your eyes— an infinitely heavy story
weighs mine down. I have filled
the spaces left for me.
The ink's ingrained
paragraphs quiver,
the sentences are vague.
The moment is still here with us,
as beautiful as ever,
and just as frail.
As always I clutch the dice
and play along with you.
Maybe Penelope will come
to unpick this mesh
Don't close your eyes.
Look at me, look
until it dawns.

Speck of blue

The wind is here again — your third autumn.

It comes empty handed except for a flower
that once lived in your eyes.

Whether you like it or not
you remember your fading children
your favourite songs drift away inconsolably.
Your arms, now two epitaphs, lull
your world to sleep
hush the wind to death.

The dress in your sewing room is left unfinished
its threadlike soul lying hopelessly on the floor.
Like a city thickened with dust
your ghetto womb is full of reveries
which you keep alive like golden sunseeds
that scurry away to lands of milk and honey.

You prefer windows open wide
like the pores of a young body.
You let in the moaning wind
to settle quietly in your hair
and lose itself in your bed
of tangled dreams.

In the frosty mirror you strip naked
like a fruit uncovered in winter.
A hermaphrodite emerges —
its infant head
a wounded flower for a breast
legs as white as swans
that hide between them a desert
once a fertile land

In each other's eyes, a speck of blue
waits for dawn to appear like mist. . .
You fasten your shirt again tightly,
a curtain closing upon an empty theatre.
You leave the windows ajar and clean their sills
for sunseeds to find shelter when they return.

And now you lie between the autumn sheets.
The speck of blue is drying in your eyes.

Trembling, you tuck the sheets
tightly around you, and wait in darkness
for the last leaf to fall.