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Poems by Otilia Nicolescu

Translated by Heathrow O’Hare

 

apusul epuizat

 

Am văzut realitatea

tîrînd umbra schimbătoare

nebuloase albastre ghemuite-n coada ochiului

apusul epuizat ţintuind un colţ de cer –

fireşte, încerc să-mi  explic toate astea

şi mai ales mersul graţios al pisicii

încăpăţînarea caprei de a porni

gîgîitul gîştelor din senin

 

am sfîrşit prin a surîde

 

univers nebun!

Îngerii s-au preschimbat în soldaţi

şi eu tot mai învîrtesc cheiţele-n poeme.

 

 

 

toamna la ora nouă

 

Ruinele vîrstei lîngă ceaşca de cafea

prin uşa întredeschisă

se zăresc penele strălucitoare

ale fazanului

împăiat săptămîna trecută

orologiul numără

cîteva din vertebrele timpului

absurdă precizare în infinita coloană

 

ca un ordin primitiv

claxonul maşinii ţiuie scurt

îmbraci rochia cenuşie

asortată desigur

la ansamblul sufletesc

puţin dereglat de viteza secolului

din nou ordinul primitiv al claxonului

pui creionul jos.

Gata cu discuţia.

 

 

 

umilinţa aurie

 

Tu te rogi ca un măslin verde

în valea unde culorile pling.

 

Pe treptele frigului

se scutură salcia

îmblînzind ţevile puştii.

 

Oraşul de cenuşă are buzele arse

cere iarbă şi flori.

 

Lată maica ta muribundă

suflă în stele

şi ele îmblînzite se prefac

în fluturi de argint

zboară pină în această duminecă

ce poartă pe umeri umilinţa aurie.

 

 

 

patinoarul

 

Patinam pe cenuşă

erau şi flori veştejite

capul greu se apleca într-o parte

vedeam lupii venind

le vedeam faţa şi ochii galbeni

răcoarea lor lipicioasă

îmi curgea pe tîmple

dar eu patinam, patinam pe cenuşă

şi nu picioarele

ci capul mi-aluneca greu

zăpadă, strigam, cerneţi zăpadă

dar veneau lupii ca nălucile roşii

şi deodată patinoarul s-a spart

în adînc era numai zăpadă

eu cădeam uşoară şi albă

lupii urlau pe margini flămînzi.

 

 

 

in penumbra albastra

 

Venise în penumbra albastră

şi murmura cu tîmplele lipite de geam

nu ştiu ce aducere aminte…

 

Pleacă mai departe, i-am spus,

nu îngrămădi atîţia fluturi stranii la fereastră…

Singurătatea dansa cu tatăl meu,

trupul lui se destrăma înfiorat

şi nu aveam cui să strig —

 

Venise în penumbra albastră,

stătea acolo născînd arbori subţiri

şi murmura cu tîmplele lipite de geam,

nu ştiu ce aducere aminte…

pleacă mai departe i-am spus,

nu îngrămădi atîtea crengi neliniştite la fereastră…

 

Singurătatea dansa cu tatăl meu,

trupul lui se destrăma înfiorat,

şi nu aveam cui să strig —

 

venise în penumbra albastră

şi murmura cu tîmplele lipite de geam

nu ştiu ce aducere aminte…

 

 

 

clipa, ca o vrabie

 

Se aude iar

cum ţopăie nimicul inefabil

multiplică ecoul

apoi emfatic, mantia aruncă

peste imprevizibila clipă

peste promiţătoarea, mincinoasa,

aurita, roasă de viermi

coclita clipă

umflată de nădejde, de spaima, de nerăbdare

pestriţă ca o vrabie, imbecilă ca o vrabie,

gureşă ca o vrabie,

clipa, prinzînd cu ciocul ei

nimicul inefabil

fărîmitura care se umflă

se tăvăleşte, prin iarba zilelor

pune suave peceţi pe buyele morţii —

apoi înmugureşte iar

aprinde iarba, cerne zăpada

într-un nesfîrsît, perpetuu cortegiu

de oarbe întîmplări

purtate în cioc

de-o vrabie gureşă şi iresponsabilă

clipa, punctul pe care

se sprinjină eternitatea

alunecă eternitatea

îngheţată şi se opreşte eternitatea.

 

 

 

nimic de înţeles

 

Deschiza cartea

terci cu sufletul peste

pergamentul vechi

o lumină palidă curge

apoi brusc

o suliţă înveninată cade

războaie sîngeroase

leşuri

tot mai adînc sfîrtecate

tot mai dese

pînă se fac stive

pînă începe duhoarea să exalte

şi tulburat duhul pleacă.

 

Un ţipăt de pasăre

aminteşte că nimic nu e de înţeles

nici măcar graiul nevinovat

al păsărilor

 

Dar viaţa      

Dar moartea?

Dar acest poem?

 

 

 

 


             

                  

                   Otilia Nicolescu

    10 January 1931 – 29 September 1993.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 exhausted sunset

 

I have seen Reality

trailing its changing shadow behind:

blue nebulae crouching in the corner of your eye

an exhausted sunset pinning down a patch of sky –

of course, I’m trying to explain all this to you,

especially the cat’s gracious movements

the stubborn goat unwilling to budge

the din of geese bursting out of the blue:

 

all’s ending up on my part in a smile –

 

it’s a mad world!

The angels have turned into soldiers

while I kept busy fitting tiny keys to my poems.

 

 

 

autumn – nine o’clock

 

The ruins of aging, next to the coffee cup –

through the cracked door

one can barely see bright feathers

from the pheasant

stuffed a week ago –

the ticking clock is counting

some of the time’s vertebrae:

an absurd statement within its endless column

 

a car’s shrill hooting

like a boorish curt command –

you put on your grey gown

which of course matches

your general state of mind

somewhat disconcerted by the century’s speed –

again that car: hooting its boorish command –

you lay your pencil down:

arguing is over.

 

 

 

golden humility

 

You’re praying like a green olive tree

in the valley of weeping colours

 

onto the steps of the cold

a willow is shedding its leaves

taming the barrels of  a gun

 

the city of ashes has parched lips

she’s begging for flowers and grass

 

look, your dying mother

gasps her last breath out toward the stars

and, tame, they turn

into silver butterflies,

which will be sailing until this coming Sunday

with golden humility brushing her shoulders.

 

 

 

the skating rink

 

I was skating on ashes

there were also wilted flowers

my heavy head was leaning sideways

I could see wolves prowling

I could see their snouts and their yellow eyes –

their sticky coolness

trickled down my temples

but I went on skating, skating on ashes

yet it was not my feet sliding

my head was – heavily

snow – I shouted – sift some snow down

but the wolves kept prowling like as many ruddy ghosts –

and all of a sudden the skating rink cracked up

there was but snow below

and down there I sailed light and white

with the hungry wolves howling at the edges  

 

 

 

the blue penumbra

 

It had entered with the blue penumbra

with its temples against the windowpane it kept murmuring

something about who knows what recollection –

 

go hence, I said

do not summon a swarm of odd-shaped butterflies about his window –

loneliness danced with my father:

trembling all over, his body was going to pieces

and there was no one around for me to call out to 

 

it had entered with the blue penumbra,

it lay there giving birth to slender trees

with its temples against the windowpane it kept murmuring

something about who knows what recollection –

 

 

go hence, I said

do not summon a swarm of odd-shaped butterflies about his window –

 

loneliness danced with my father,

trembling all over, his body was going to pieces,

and there was no one around for me to call out to –

 

 

 

like a sparrow, the instant

 

one can hear again

the way the ineffable nothing is hopping

multiplying the echo –

then, emphatically, the mantle throws

over the incalculable instant

over the promising, lying

aureate, by-worms-gnawed

by-rust-eaten instant –

swollen by hope, by fright, by impatience

pied like a sparrow, mindless like a sparrow,

garrulous like a sparrow –

the instant, capturing in its beak

the ineffable nothing

the crumb that gets swollen

wriggles through the days’ grass

that lays soft seals on death’s lips –

then it starts budding forth again

lights up the grass, sifts the snow-flakes down

in an unending, perpetual cortege

of  blind occurrences,

carried in its beak

by a garrulous and mindless sparrow

the instant, the dot against which

eternity is leaning

or sliding along

or freezing into stillness

 

 

 

nothing to understand

 

you open the book

passing your soul over

its old parchment –

a pale light starts

suddenly flowing –

a poisoned spear falls down

bloody wars

corpses

ever more deeply slashed

in ever greater numbers

until they are piled in mounds

until the stench rises aloft

and the troubled spirit departs

 

a bird’s cry

reminds you that there’s nothing to understand

not even about the birds’

innocent idiom

 

what about life ?

what about death ?

what about this poem ?

 

 

 

 


Copyright © Estate of Otilia Nicolescu and Heathrow O’Hare 2003

This poetry may not be archived or distributed further without the author’s express permission. Please read the license.

This electronic version of Otilia Nicolescu’s poems and Heathrow O’Hare‘s translations is published by The Richmond Review by arrangement with the author. For rights information, contact The Richmond Review in the first instance

 

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