Jul/Aug 2014 Poetry

Two Translations from the Bulgarian

by Draga Dyulgerova

translated by Jascha Kessler

Image credit: Richard Lee, NCI, Digital Media Database, www.genome.gov

Image credit: Richard Lee, NCI, Digital Media Database, www.genome.gov

On Lethe's Shore

We stood on Lethe's shore,
wistful, sunken in ourselves.
Lethe's waters streamed before us
bearing everything away—
just everything.

Though booked for beyond,
we smiled, counting step by step
departure time
and sang to the world
that holds us,
sang magically
like Columbine and Harlequin—
those dolls we played with
long, long ago—
and cast our kisses on the wind.

When we reached that wall,
we found runes carved in stone,
runes recalling ancient times,
a prayer that fell to earth
flashing rainbow light
like crystal tears.

What mattered most was written last:
I have loved, thank god!
And still I love, thank god!
And, thank god! am loved...


At the River

for J.K.

He's there on the far shore,
she's on this bank.
The wind carries a kiss
over the flood to her.
He whistles some tune
and goes off god knows where
as though nothing happened.

The wind plays with that kiss,
fashioning a flower
aloft in the air,
that settles at last on her head
to leave a scent of lilac
in her hair.

They meet again—
on this side now—
only to part once more.
And yet a kiss
that barely brushed her cheek
holds her where she stands
as he goes still whistling
on his way somewhere
as though nothing happened.

Her cheek burns all day,
and that night
as she waits by the river
on this very same shore
he's somehow kissed her,
and her lips open
like a flower.

What then?
Who knows what then.
Whatever that was,
it went with the river...

Yet the evening smells of lilac,
And three kisses drift here, drift there—
three kisses and her secret—
drifting on the wind.


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