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my body – a map for your soul
i will undress
translated by the author
you’re salt, the salt encrusted
in the rips of this soul
the salt that spoiled this morsel i’d count on
– this morsel i saved
to survive
Poem translated by the author
what i remember
here’s what i remember:
the classroom by the corridor
patched in pictures
low chairs painted glossy green, children babbling.
coming in with pa, i hold his little finger
(don’t like my hand grabbed in his huge hand)
and he stops, pa, at the long table
talks to his lady with his proper voice
pulls out my old copybooks, wide and narrow lines
swimming between pink, blue, green plastic covers.
he opens one by one, flattening curly corners,
turning page by page, he watches the lady’s face –
a book he must learn by heart, not missing a word
– till they get to maths, detest numbers
she asks me at the tables – i don’t know them
i want stories, i can even write long ones
– pa says the things you hate you need more                      
now i can’t quit.just been to a shrink
 – waiting, she sat in a huge chair, revolving
wrapped in shawls of all colours
she signalled take off your shoes and enter
– a long soft carpet beneath her feet
i poured all i had dragged
bubbling – from my vena cava, to the right
the valve, the artery, the lungs
the vein, the left
to my heart
and i watched this lady, her face –
a book i must learn by heart
and she took me
to the classroom down the corridor
patched in pictures
and she asked me
write long stories on the blackboard
and go on to the walls, corridor and outside.
Poem translated by the author
i know
i know, when we get there,
the zinc door trembling as we open makes me shudder.
it’s a long reel unwinding, creaking – the time i spend in those fields,
each time i’m there.
once, you let me help you
i walked behind you on soft soil
home, i brought smells of onions and fennel
i dream of you, they return
open doors wide, they won’t leave.
we went searching for beans hiding
in tiny branches, white florets
you taught me how to open pod by pod
really quickly. i still smell you
when beans are ready for me to rip, look inside.
we collected grapes. i recall
fine stems curling, fingers purple
you showed me the square hole
in the shade, where you turned grapes
to wine, each year.
i don’t know why, i was scared.
months later, picking dahlias
and zinnhias – armfuls,
walking in, girdling bunch by bunch,
brown string, to take them to cemetery.
then, one day we took you with the flowers.
even then, the land was soft
giving out smells of incence
and from the aisle grew olive trees–
Poem translated by Maria GRECH GANADO
sometimes i cut the night in two
humming songs coming from nowhere
which taste of songs chanted by grannies
who are now ghosts
Poem translated by the author
Ten minutes to six
Ten minutes to six. Almost dark. I’m in the kitchen. In the living-room, Vivaldi. And Clive.
Together, they make a home of this house. As does the greenish candle on the dark
table, flickering. And the coffee grinder. And the parsley in a glass, slightly inclined.
Together with the pungent smell of roast potatoes and onions. Outside, it’s gone cold. I
can hear children chatting on some doorstep, or some women returning from Mass. No,
it’s children. At times, they laugh. Someone is running. Then stops. And there’s a car with
speakers loud enough to rattle the glass. Simon and Garfunkel: The Sound of Silence.
Probably a van. It too slows down. Here, the street gets narrow. As in an alley, where the
balconies mock each other. The neighbours across seem to live in our house – their TV is
ours too. I could spend lifetimes just listening: people bawling, applauding, making love.
Not as now, apparently still. Everything’s silent, as though they’ve left. Only somebody
locking up, the iron bolt squeaking. The louvre. And a tug at the glass, pulling at the
window-frame. But tonight, there’ll be no rain. There’s hardly one cloud. A short while
ago, everything was bursting with sunshine: the yards and their light-coloured sheets
flapping, the walls with orange trees in their laps, the low steps between the buildings.
At this time, every day, I feel a bit sad. Time has flown, like a pebble. Far away, the port
scatters its light onto the water, together with the sounds of ships leaving. Beyond the
curtain caught by a side-tie, the church’s precincts. The clubs spread out on its margins.
The waterfront. And the cars parked any old how mid-way down the hill, in front of the
pizza booth a few metres away from the police station. A horn blares. A pause, and the
car revs. From the roof, I can hear people shouting all the way from Birgu – under It-
Toqba (the hole). And when I look closely at the small waves, I think I can even hear
them snore. From the valley, nothing. My eyes, instinctively, always move there. Earlier,
cranes, trucks. Now, nothing. At this table I can see the whole day. I write, I eat, nothing
stops. Now, nothing.
Except the striking of the hour. Everywhere. And it is dark. Pitch-dark.
Poem translated by the author and Maria GRECH GANADO
variations on silence
   silence – that’s what I recall, mostly
   : the biting silence – of your gaze
where i still keep vigil, waiting for thyme to bloom.
a white screen unfolds before me, slightly crinkled slightly patched
– and i’m there trembling
in my childhood hole, silent
in a block – that’s given up even on itself;
– you scrub my small body, bent over
the plastic basin with its broken handle,
a big pot bubbling on the light blue tower
of a kerosene stove with its black door
– how we peered from far to see the fire dance.
and i recall the silence, scared
of time passing, your bones – cracking
because that’s what i think
it’s the silence, that will stay–
Poem translated by the author and Maria GRECH GANADO
speech for the water-table-display attendant at mississippi river museum
/ steamboats, keelboats
steamboats, keelboats … everyone
lives on rivers, where’s your river going?
rain drips, learns to row
becomes river, and you – pirate
prepare for the cascade, the downfall of your death
see it roll in the current, toll of drums, warring
with ghosts of water waiting at some bend
                                                you do not know
see the bubbles rise and search
the sky, drinking the murky water
turning green, spitting it back
digging dizzy drunk, flaying
the rocks, drinking it back, even while
it strips both sun and moon, and drops you
– with a thunderclap
Poem translated by the author and Maria GRECH GANADO
aristoteleus square
stefo[1] tells me how his city
stopped at aristoteleus square and froze
years ago, while we walk
– he on the right, me next to him
       only the voices change, of people looking into shop-windows,
       and pavements are dug out, and poles grow up
       in the noise which muffles the engines of cars revving up beside me
        the coffee shops, as we come down from the bus
        still give out the same mixed smells of greek sweets
        packed in white carton boxes, tied up with ribbons of all colours
        springing and rustling with each step
we walk down, lost
and he asks if i’m still young
           young, today i feel young
we don’t see the road
he turns his face
         i smell the sea, and feel the wind blowing in my face
         – look, that’s the white tower on the right
        i will play you a song and see if you recognise the sounds
        of clouds passing by over buildings in this area
        as they move to the wide streets, and the busy alleys
        of the market herbs and olives in jars, all sizes
         i want to take you to see the flowers in this city they grow everywhere
         – in the shelves outside, behind windows, probably even in the water 
         (if we go down on the rocks
         and fix your glance when the waves calm down
                      and the drizzle stops)
                      – and in each woman’s lap, believe me
                      i smell them moving,
                      the roses swinging in their laps and in the creases of their dresses
       as they walk past me, their heels clicking–
Poem translated by the author
i still see them, quite often
as you come to the last step,
this black man in a puddle
of cigarettes and crumbs
nodding, fishing for your eyes fleeing
from his broken pupils.
walk a bit, this musician, harmonica rattling
the alleys of his brain winding
behind you, walking past him
– he weaves long ave marias, shaken
stopping, fraying; catches you looking back
starts again, weaving.
go up the train, running, before doors shut
this woman wrapped in dark
her face a hot thirsty desert
singing you tales to appease
you - small girl, lost–
Poem translated by the author
the falling trees are falling trees
the falling trees are falling trees
in the long run – the first white hair
and my tummy rolls to peep
over my Levi’s – today my legs
tire of carrying me, why should it matter?
while you rubbed my back – hands pressing down,
leaving red burning trails, you ran out of breath –
now you pass your fingers through my hair
you rest your head on my naked breasts
and let your eyes close – sleep –
when you wake, take me to grow old with you
man, i won’t forget – the taste of apples
in your kisses, and the dew in your sleepy eyes.
the four seasons are ours: we start with spring;
spring opens up; grows even lovelier
and at its ripest–
Poem translated by the author and Maria G 

Inguanez Simone

[1]           Stefanos, musician from Tessaloniki, had gone blind overnight at the age of 18.