Liāna Langa, Juris Kunnoss and Gatis Krumins are contemporary Latvian poets.

All Birds Know This, edited by Astrīde Ivaska and Māra Rūmniece, Tapals, 2001.

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Māris Salējs
Māris Salējs


           For Liāna Langa

we walk on the peaks of noise
intoxicated by dust and the maples
surrounded by the orange of buses
we step on silent asphalt and the sun
breathing through sneezing nostrils

past the edge of a market with fruit
twice reduced, cut up and tasty
just in fantasy, because summer is almost over
a morning with frost spots in places of shadow
the jangle of small change thrown on a counter
(by those still wanting ice cream)

we walk and the sky creates its color
from a mix of clouds and chimney smoke
brown bark shimmers from a tree trunk
a park glares between buildings

here we are with frost in the air
at the last breath of Indian summer


           For Juris Kunnoss and Gatis Krumins

As incredibly light as your only summer with stainless steel nostrils
and steaming fog hearths in evening rivers
there is a yearning for something sacred perhaps
it's meant to happen after the second or third sound of the bell
when the scar over the guard's eyebrow has darkened
and the ice cube thrown in the glass
has shattered at the noise of the petard. Then all will take to wing

whose species allows them to fly. The rest will trudge in the streets
where swaying reproductions of the future
drip from advertisement wounds

but always something remains. some blade of grass or fragile smile
holds us to the crumbling moment
when Riga leans against the river

and the stars fall away from light

* * *

the day finally sends a scream
to look for your ear
rue is in bloom, its bitter burrs
fall in a greenish swath

that fragrance will be our kingdom
balanced on fragile petioles
(some say it's the end)
(some say it's misery)
(they vanish without a trace)

Ours is a taste of the moon and water.

* * *

I howled out the silence
it now howls itself
again the air shrinks
into dandelion flowered night

now— not I
nor you
to disturb it
and from our vita brevis
a new star sparks up

to prick and maybe
never to disappear. . .
the beginning of another tender life
another life's cross
Translated by Margita Gailitis

from All Birds Know This

the turn of seasons approaches
crowds living within me
turn their heads towards the moon
that grows dark at the moment
when autumn turns into winter

even moths for a moment stop eating their wool

* * *

You are my Saturday.
nothing hurts we wake up. it seems
I don't understand. giant horses jab at the glass
with their muzzles wet eyes do not ask. The Baby's
just left me. The Baby is inside You. The Baby
by You it is small like a leaf compared to me.
Baby I want to be a baby. white sheets in the
backyard. I don't remember. You are my
Saturday. I don't know if you'll be my Sunday. breath
makes the pane grow misty. Horses' nostrils tremble.
Baby you are alone. It's so difficult Baby to be a baby.
Baby I'll die a grownup. a stork knocks against the pane.
horses gather round. they don't neigh.

Translated by Inguna Jansone