May 19, 2008

Sitok Srengenge (3)


By the bank of the River Amstel, in a cafe,
you shake death off the coat, at dusk
The years gilding the longing,
your hair whitening
The current keeps crushing between the swans
and lines of light
Seventeen teals crowding in the passageway of a cheesecake shop,
seven glasses of alcohol spinning the coarse flannel of drizzle
Then you pry out that bit of exile: a flock of Peking ducks
driven to an alien land south of Nanking
where the sentries' whips
are ready to strip reason, to lash death
Between a tray of cannar meat slices and a pot of green tea
you snort out once more with hate the sacred words of Mao
And as wild as a stray seagull,
you arrange the memories, you follow the dreams, in confusion
to the heights of a whip-driven climb
up the parched cliffs of Manchuria
But at that dusk, Wispi, on the bank of the River Amstel
you shake death, once again, off the coat
For in your shrinking body
there are pulses of the sea soothing bitterness:
ideology, dreams of revolution
-the precarious faith that builds prisons
The dangling red shawl on your neck, Wispi,
is like a desire that never sees the light of day
Perhaps, I can't be sure,
you mention God with a sigh of a vein,
beneath the scattering powder of snow
through trees that withhold silence,
you row your weathering age to heaven-knows
where a crane stands dazed on the roof ridge, waiting for crumbs
Perhaps death has once called on Daltonstraat, one night
whiffing over the memories that you've recorded, blurry books,
traces of nicotine on the pipe, the echoing coughs on coffee grounds,
when you go on vacation to a country of illusions

(Translated by Hasif Amini)


The snake man squats under the bungur tree
gathering a hurricane of dead leaves,
the snake woman bathes mesmerized
by the shadow of paradise at the bottom of the lake
The man closes his eyes to dream of a thousand rapids,
as the woman stays awake for the next moon to come
The roar of rapids breaks the silence of the stone,
as the lake sends out the river to split the ravine,
and the round moon guides the snake in its wanderings
The stones are set into the shape of a mountain, the man climbs
The moons flock together to reach a year, the woman flies
To tear at the mountain for many years, the snake coils
The man ends with rapids starts with stones,
the woman ends with the lake starts with the moon,
the snake man-woman start and end with heads with forked tongues
The man aims a stone at the snake's head,
the snake's tongue calls to the lake
The rowing with the moon runs ashore on the mountain with its rapids,
the anchor is cast into the ravine
where bananas and citronella grass grow
The snake-like instinct emerges at the hips and the woman writhes,
the man's fingers grip the mountain
The snake's glands creep onto the waist and the man tightens,
the women's hands reach for the moon
The man of rapids splashes the bed of the woman lakes,
the snake strikes the moon amidst the stones
The dream of the sleeping Earth becomes you,
when it awakes its consciousness turns into me
(Translated by Margaret Agusta)