Thursday, February 28, 2019

Anna Swir / Large Intestine

“Nude Woman Charcoal Study 56”
 by Ashvin HarrisoN

Large Intestine

Translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan
Look in the mirror. Let us both look.
Here is my naked body.
Apparently you like it,
I have no reason to.
Who bound us, me and my body?
Why must I die
together with it?
I have the right to know where the borderline
between us is drawn.
Where am I, I, I myself.

Belly, am I in the belly? In the intestines?
In the hollow of the sex? In a toe?
Apparently in the brain. I do not see it.
Take my brain out of my skull. I have the right
to see myself. Don’t laugh.
That’s macabre, you say.

It’s not me who made
my body.
I wear the used rags of my family,
an alien brain, fruit of chance, hair
after my grandmother, the nose
glued together from a few dead noses.
What do I have in common with all that?
What do I have in common with you, who like
my knee, what is my knee to me?

I would have chosen a different model.

I will leave both of you here,
my knee and you.
Don’t make a wry face, I will leave you all my body
to play with.
And I will go.
There is no place for me here,
in this blind darkness waiting for
I will run out, I will race
away from myself.
I will look for myself
like crazy
till my last breath.

One must hurry
before death comes. For by then
like a dog jerked by its chain
I will have to return
into this stridently suffering body.
To go through the last
most strident ceremony of the body.

Defeated by the body,
slowly annihilated because of the body

I will become kidney failure
or the gangrene of the large intestine.
And I will expire in shame.

And the universe will expire with me,
reduced as it is
to a kidney failure
and the gangrene of the large intestine.

Talking to My Body (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1996)

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Anna Swir / Woman Unborn

Woman Unborn

Translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan

I am not born as yet,
five minutes before my birth.
I can still go back
into my unbirth.
Now it’s ten minutes before,
now, it’s one hour before birth.
I go back,
I run
into my minus life.

I walk through my unbirth as in a tunnel
with bizarre perspectives.
Ten years before,
a hundred and fifty years before,
I walk, my steps thump,
a fantastic journey through epochs
in which there was no me.

How long is my minus life,
nonexistence so much resembles immortality.

Here is Romanticism, where I could have been a spinster,
Here is the Renaissance, where I would have been
an ugly and unloved wife of an evil husband,
The Middle Ages, where I would have carried water in a tavern.

I walk still further,
what an echo,
my steps thump
through my minus life,
through the reverse of life.
I reach Adam and Eve,
nothing is seen anymore, it’s dark.
Now my nonexistence dies already
with the trite death of mathematical fiction.
As trite as the death of my existence would have been
had I been really born.

Talking to My Body (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1996)

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Saturday poem / The Walled Garden by Sarah Howe

The Saturday poem: The Walled Garden

by Sarah Howe

Across the road, the girls quit school in threes
and fours, tripping off at speed to stations
or familiar cars, their silhouettes, slung
with shoulder bags and hockey sticks, like mules.
Remember, says the afternoon; the shut
door shudders brassily beneath my hand.
It is already dark, or darkening –
that sky above the dimming terraced rows
goes far beyond a child’s imagining.
I tread along the backstreet where the cabs
cut through behind the luminous science labs –
their sills of spider plants in yoghurt pots
among the outsize glassware cylinders
like pygmies contemplating monoliths.
You cannot walk the other side because
the walled garden meets the road direct
in pools of spangled tarmac after rain;
the open gutter choking up with leaves.
As though to listen, the colossal trees
lean out into the tungsten-haloed street.
I meet another on the road – this snail’s
slow ribbon turns the asphalt into gold.