Volume 9 (Spring 2015)

George Vulturescu

          trans. by Adam J. Sorkin and Olimpia Iacob




The Dog of the Earth


I carry no more than the poem

can bear: my life wrapped

inside it as in cellophane. Enjoy lunch, worms!

I put there all that has been better.


Witchcraft can be seen after every word,

beginners: the reptilian scales fall from it.

The dog of the earth within me remains:

its trembling, its barking.


In truth, it belongs to me:

free mole through the clay of my fears.



Căţelul pământului


Nu car mai mult decât poate

să ducă poemul: viaţa mea înfăşurată

în el ca-ntr-un celofan. Prânz bun, viermilor!

Am pus tot ce era mai bun acolo.


Vrăjitoria se vede, începătorilor, după

fiecare cuvânt: cad solzii de reptilă de pe el.

Rămâne căţelul pământului din mine:

Tremurul lui, lătratul lui.


El îmi aparţine cu adevărat:

cârtiţă liberă prin lutul spaimelor mele.




The Time of the Sands


I have invented the Stones of the North

to meet you. Lord, I ripped them out

from my brain cells the way You plucked

the stones from the sea


An aged man, I enter the village abandoned long ago.

I rest upon a stone. People and animals

go by, cars and children, soldiers and whores.

One of them crouches down. I touch my hand

to her rosy skin but feel only reptilian scales.

I cannot see the wine of beauty in her eyes

and I swear:

     “Rimbaud, who is bearer

     of the living water?”

The stone is real

the graveyard real

the ghost appears to you in your own image

you let him pass

for a while he will proceed in the opposite direction

for a while the wind will howl through his mask

until he fills her void with your face

as molten gold fills the mold for a coin


A blind man goes by and picks up the stone from the mud of the street:

“Foolish stones, whoever entrusted you

with the sand beneath the rind?

A god's traces are impregnated in its dust.

I go after it, cover it with my foot,

warm it. But it is written in books that the traces

cannot be hatched like eggs. In good books

it is written that the North is baneful, it exhales epidemics

out of the clays and the stones. And in evil books it is written

that there are stones on which the hemlock grows, snakes

bake the venom warming it with their scales.

There are people who cannot live without hemlock.

They pay well for it, kill for it…”


“Lord, save him from his North,” a stranger

says, overhearing him.

The blind man turns to him:

“And you too are from the North but the time for you

to find out this truth has not yet come.



Vremea nisipurilor


Ca să te pot întâlni am inventat Pietrele

Nordului. Doamne, le-am smuls din

celulele creierului precum ai sumeţit Tu

stâncile din mare


Bătrân, intru în satul părăsit de mult.

Mă opresc pe o piatră. Trec oameni şi

animale, maşini şi copii, soldaţi şi curve.

Una mi se aşează pe genunchi. Pun mâna

pe pielea ei rozalie dar îi simt solzii de

reptilă. Nu-i văd în ochi vinul frumuseţii

şi înjur:

                          “ Rimbaud, cine este aducătorul

                               apei vii?”

Piatra este reală

cimitirul real

strigoiul vine spre tine cu chipul tău

îl laşi să treacă

o vreme va merge în direcţie opusă

o vreme prin masca lui va hăui vântul

până va umple golul ei cu chipul tău

precum lichidul aurului va umple formele monezii


Trece un orb şi o ridică din noroiul străzii:

“Cine v-a încredinţat vouă, pietre smintite,

nisipul de sub coajă?

O urmă de zeu e impregnată în pulberea lui.

Mă iau după ea, o acopăr cu talpa mea, o

încălzesc. Dar urmele nu pot fi clocite ca ouăle,

e scris  în cărţi. În cărţile bune,

e scris că Nordul e maladiv, exhală molime

din luturi şi pietre. Şi-n cărţile rele stă scris

că sunt pietre pe care creşte cucuta, şerpii

îi coc veninul încălzind-o cu solzii lor.

Sunt oamenii care nu pot trăi fără cucută.

Plătesc bine, ucid pentru ea…”


Mântuieşte-l, Doamne, de Nordul lui zice

un străin auzindu-l.

Orbul se-ntoarce spre el:

“ Şi tu eşti din Nord, dar încă n-a sosit vremea

să afli…”



Grace


Alexia disappears for three months

high on the Mountain.

No one knows what she does there.

Village women whisper in dark places

that she makes love with wolves,

that she feeds herself on herbs and honey

from the hives of the wild bees.


Pale and weak Alexia resumes her work

in the yard: she spins the wool

of sheep, sews and goes to the river

to wash the embroidered shirts.

“Why do you not come to church,

Alexia?” the girls ask her.

“I do not want the grace of icons,

only my right to grace…”



Graţia


Alexia dispare câte trei luni

sus pe Munte.

Nimeni nu ştie ce face acolo.

Femeile din sat spun pe la colţuri

că face dragoste cu lupii, că se

hrăneşte cu ierburi şi miere de

stupi sălbatici.


Palidă şi slăbită Alexia îşi reia

munca în ogradă: deapănă lâna

oilor, coase şi se duce la rîu

să spele iile.

– Tu de ce nu vii la biserică,

Alexia, o întreabă fetele.

– Eu nu vreau graţia icoanelor,

ci dreptul meu la graţie...





George Vulturescu, who was born in the province of Satu Mare, in northern Romania, is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, among them  The North and Beyond the North (2001), Monograms on the Stones of the North (2005),  Other Poems from the North (2007); The Blind Man from the North (2009); and Gold and Ivy (2011). Among his many prizes is the Romanian Cultural Order of Merit for Literature granting him the title of “ Cavaler” (“Knight”). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in  Parthenon West Review,  Connotation Press, Asymptote,  UCity Review, Inventory, Bitter Oleander,  Rowboat, Lana Turner, Poetry Ireland, Poetry Wales, Tupelo Quarterly,  Ezra, and Notre Dame Review; Gold and Ivy/Aur și iederă, translated with Olimpia Iacob, was published in Cluj, Romania, by Eikon.


Adam J. Sorkin is a translator of contemporary Romanian literature. In 2011, he published Liliana Ursu's A Path to the Sea, Ioan Flora's Medea and Her War Machines, Ion Mureșan's The Book of Winter and Other Poems, and The Vanishing Point That Whistles: An Anthology of Contemporary Romanian Poetry, all with co-translators. In 2012, two chapbooks appeared, Dan Sociu's Mouths Dry with Hatred and Ioan Flora's The Flying Head. In 2014, Sorkin published Rodica Draghincescu's A Sharp Double-Edged Luxury Object (Červená Barva), Marta Petreu's The Book of Anger (Diálogos Books) and Mihail Gălățanu's The Starry Womb (Diálogos Books), all with co-translators.


On Libations: The Romanian plum brandy,  ţuică (“tsuica”), is my libation of choice, and I'm pretty sure that the poet would agree.


Olimpia Iacob is Associate Professor in  Modern Languages at Vasile Goldiș West University of Arad, Romania. She graduated from the Alexandru loan Cuza University (Iași), from which she earned a Ph.D. in 2000 with a dissertation entitled Translation Theory Applied to  the Poetry of Nichita Stănescu. Her book-length translations include prose and poetry by Cassian Maria Spiridon, Gabriel Stănescu, Gheorghe Grigurcu,  Petre Got, Mircea Petean, and Magdalena Dorina Suciu, as well as George Vulturescu.