Simona-Grazia Dima

 

 

 

(Romania)

 

 

STROLLING THROUGH THE PARK

 

I’m strolling through the wind-swept park,

filled with louder-than-ever urban gipsy pop-folk;

instead of air I’m breathing in some kind of anesthetic,  

which helps one stand the lies

and cease longing for truth.

There’s a site nearby where day by day

music destroys the landscape,

yet on the selfsame spot Ahasuerus

sat down on a bench and redeemed himself.

Two dogs are gazing straight at me;

they have begun to howl;

there will soon be a downpour of rocks.

I am (with no forseeable escape?)

inside a quadrangle that has an ugly beast 

fitted in each corner: a subdued bear,

a forehead-wrinkled wolf, a pensive rat,

a shriveled-up bull. El Chupacabras* is king,

he who drinks up your blood, your strength,

El Chupacabras who cannot be easily found, asleep

under cars. While the park, with its winding paths

lined with busts of celebrities, shudders and

groans. A gust of wind slashes the green, bunches

of stars floating on patches of black air. Winter

fireworks. Whichever exit you might choose

the park keepers, on alert, would hold you back.

The Romanian way of putting it: here the rivers drown. 

In the neighborhood a makeshift carpenter is sawing

a wooden board laid on a chair, chances are high that

he cuts through the furniture too. They’ll treat him with

coffee and baklava and entertain him with storytelling

to prevent his cutting too deep. That’s how it is with us:

when a step forward is taken the rascals must

happily march along. That’s why they’ll have to be fed

on saints’ hearts. Hidden are the tablets commemorating

the poets who lingered a while, then passed away, serenely,

in the nature of things, feebly calling out there from.

Romanian dust, settled as token of age and time:

a heap of smithereens, wonderful bits of song.

For their dear sake you forgive all the rest.

 

 

*El Chupacabras is a mythical and mysterious (never seen) vampire in South America feared for sucking the blood of sheep, goats, and other small animals. Witnesses claim having recently seen it in various places.

 

 

ROUTE

 

Day in day out, heading towards the “academic hill,”

like walking on a land strip reclaimed from the sea or winding along  

the Colorado Canyon. Red-eyed cars with crab-like filaments  

wriggle their way out of the deep mists, between                                                                                                                                   the donut shop and the Byzantine Bookstore,

the homeless junkie girl ecstatically sways – how can you

talk to her, what could you say, meanwhile the words keep flowing 

through communicating vessels, a luminous

resin, the Name is freely weaving its own mystery,

in broad daylight, among gossamer floating

far away to the horizon’s rim. From the Church of the Patriarchy

the roll of baritone voices is pouring downhill, perfectly

synchronized, bulldozers flatten out harmless words of olden times:

duh, abur, vizuina – for a split second I see groundhogsracing

down the Thracian plain.On haze-muffled streets we roam

believing that in our hands we hold divine square sets,

striving hard to introduce our kind of exactitude

into a dream’s world, yet the structures and the edges

carefully carved turn instantly into a fragrance,

we smile; the mason is also the exquisite demolisher,

the one that lulls us in fluid knowingness, to make us see a rose

in the bloodshed. And we keep walking, as if on the sea floor.

 

 

THE ARMY OF SMALL CREATURES

 

We are the small creatures, an army

aware of its genealogy,

welcoming you to our home

and cleanliness, ready for

meeting guests who are different from us.

Smiling at each unfamiliar thing,

happy for all the gifts

that are on the verge of coming into being,

we busily keep tidying up.

                   Dear guests, don’t worry about not knowing these places,

                   we can remove the stoves, the bark of the trees,

                   and take out the forefathers’ portraits hidden below,

                   slightly sweating with feverish eyes that move

                   to tears the walls of our homes,

                   we can offer you wines and old haloed fruit, show you

                   the river flowing below our cellars, whose gushing waves

                   are made of countless things that have clustered and breathe,

from which nothing is missing that we may think of,

we might even dig out some of your own reminiscences,

an easy job, actually we could do it blindfolded

for nothing has been lost, and to our eyes

death has never been lodged in the world’s being,

                   only maybe in its mind, so you may

                   watch the birth of history and science,

                   as they come out of our hearts, around the fire, when

                   we crack open the mellow pumpkins. Memory is our fire,

                   on these lands trees carry heavy, dark, smoky

                   fruits for they feed on  the soil of recollection,

                   and our eyes are purplish-golden because we never know                                      where the past stops, each step just takes us further on,

                   in the vanguard of whirling slumbers, enabled by memory                                      that envelops us in light, but also in weariness and death, our

eyes ache with the illness of beings, as the earth moans, assuming

new forms, and the birds of memory opening and folding their wings

overnight, and each morning dawns over the wonderful frozen

tinsel, white camphor, cooling down the torment and fear of the shuddering

creatures, the soil in our hands starts awakening sighing,

recovering its inner law.

Don’t take for granted the mildness and clumsiness of these lands,

each hill has the fixed contours

                   of a knowledge that’s crumbling softly

                   under the burden of its own depth, a soldier’s

                   body dozing while his arms

                   are swaying to and fro, clean and forceful.

                   Our games are cautious, at their climax

                   they erupt into wreaths of words, bowers,

in which deep underneath time lies, well hidden, unhurried like gold,

impregnating the ground. Each place is a powerful word,

uttered by a mouth, which has weighed it at great length

on an island in the midst of barren seas. In the evening

one can see the shape of each place, in which some creatures

of the right size will nestle, happily crouching inside the shelter.

The lay of our land is nostalgic …

 

 

THE FOOL OF THIS PATH

 

             The Fool walks as if he were a dancing flame …his feet

          leave their imprint behind; their progress has consequences:

         the Fool’s traces are glowing, he’s calling out for an awakening, 

         taking people by surprise, inflaming their soul, tearing everything                                                                        down in his path, wreaking havoc throughout.

 

                                         Marcel Picard, Tarot. Practice and Readings

 

Simultaneously a king on the eve of Coronation Day and a poor

Plantagenet going into exile upon receiving a diffidatio. Between what

you see and what I am, between the path and the heart – the endless

journey. Leaning with one arm onto the soil that devours me, to the point

of having turned me into a translucent smudge clinging to a carcass,

I’m addressing you from beyond my body, my garments, and my idiom,

and I’m boring holes through soft rubber-like tissue, so that you realize

whereto any journey’s finally coiling up. So that you may perceive

the same thing through all the words and membranes, the same

flickering screen, the purple meninx, the fearlessly-cold orchestrator,

serene and dumb with dread, and so that I may do justice to that testimony

rising from the steamy haze trickling down between life

and death, from the reality out of which I won’t be dislodged.

I’ve never had an ID card, a password, or a badge pinned to my

jacket; I’ve never lied, have said but what I feel: it’s just a matter of walking,

you’ll be fooling yourselves thinking you’d get somewhere

else than within your heart – journeys are about erratic love spots,

yet the real journey cannot be recounted.

Words – those stomping mummers – will doff their hats

and turn silent, fake bunnies, beware, will burrow,

deep down and settle in your fate.

 

Yet what about this botched ungainly listless Kobold

prowling in the grass?

A manikin … one can dimly hear a doggerel jeering ‘at life

and death,’ with a chuckle and a limp strumming of  the guitar,

the pilgrimage bluntly derided by the yanking of the mantle on his back.

My body’s almost completely eaten up

‘and so what’ (coolly someone remarks)

 

it has been claimed and I’ve surrendered it,

tossed it into the great athanor of the blind, scintillating force

that bears no signs; it is roaming now in the world beyond

like a hoarse pigeon;

whatever you can still notice of it is its jellified remnant;

my omnipotence lying in tearing myself up.

 

The devil himself operates propelled by a fuel of love

so does the one who, instead of loving you, collapses, hurting you;

the coal yielded by several eons being burnt up

to grant his eyes their diamond moment –

only thereafter would he finally fall, emptied of sight, emptied

of mind and heart.

You say you’re on the move,

yet to my eyes you’re standing still

until you dare break open your casemates,

surrendering to the grip of that monster’s paws

eager to gobble you up.

You’ll then be willing to let yourself be swallowed by the ravenous

chasms, at the mercy of their ruthless fangs.

The more threadbare you be, the more convinced

that at long last you’ll stay untouched, more apt

to distill the harmful, beastly juice, delivered to you 

unbeknownst, to make it bloom into AMOR QUINTESSENTIALIS.

 

You may have noticed the tricorne of my clownish attire or the shabby rags

of the former Plantagenet king, exiled after having received a diffidatio,

but you can’t see the Heart, in the blue cave

on the right-hand side of the body.

Do not trust what your eyes behold

and, as you unfasten one patch after another,

in order to lay bare the void in its whirling gyre,

get rid one by one of all your words,

numbers, pilgrimages –

Why all this hot pursuit?

Go down into your inner selves, beyond

the travesty. Turning into wanderers

should do the trick.

Eaten up by termites, I’ll be born again

untraveled, traveling.

 

From what I seem to be to what I am

there is a sea-change: the reconversion in the heart.

And by no means can you see me whole,

I stick out of the page, I’m walking endlessly and yet

I am the hearth of changelessness, I’m spiraling upwards,

my pointed red shoes scorch the earth,

my steps originate in a remote art of the fire;

and I delight in stroking, from a motionless posture,

the good side

of the changing world.

 

Do not slurp at the words’ supper,

remember in the very midst of the feast

the butcher’s chopper, never far away:

with each drop of honey, there comes a tear of blood

for each stately report delivered in the throne room,

there’s the anonymous beheading of a lonesome body,

in the children’s or in the plebe’s neighborhoods.

A tuneful tinkling of bells jams the message as usual,

making the words withdraw deep 

beyond the invisible dam, letting the spirit

gurgle on its own,  unimpeded

in the bay of yielding – imprudence – dishonor.

Do not lie drowsing over words, grazed by flies,

don’t shamelessly nap on the shabby crenellated wall –

Killing  time over words, getting enwrapped in their crafty

decoy, is an ending devoid of glory –

One such inn with overly glowing windows is enough

to make you tumble off the path.

At every shiny spot

a fountain of the night,

your ecstasy is triggered off

by the shock of a couple of unrelated languages –

familiar, sublime, or meteorically white –

which spurt from the same heart under the knife,

and may tame you by dint of perplexity,

preventing you from getting locked

into a single range of utterance.

At a given moment, out of the violence, there won’t be left

any trace of reprimand.

The flash of lightning may flare up anywhere –

Guess where it lurks; let your face shine with its power,

lend your features

to Medusa’s saved mask.

 

I’m the container of chance and Providence.

Life is being elevated into the work.

Which life? Squeals the manikin full of rancor.

Life, a swarm of hungry ants,

the rattle is fading away.

Let me vouchsafe the ultimate sadness.

Inside the ogive of my former breast

the emerald is waking up.

 

 

INVISIBLE

 

Only he

knows my looks.

Only he knows the name employed

by the earth when calling me.

He alone can see me.

Invisible, I roam at my sweet will,

rejoycing

that things follow their course

and all that’s bound to happen

will occur.

Invisible, I gently flow,

like a spring,

for enough love is going around

whomever is unable to love,

liking things does constantly occur,

which I also happen to indulge,

no need for me to know

where this is actually occuring,

out of the row

shooting across the sky

there’s nothing missing.

 

 

UMBRIEL

 

We were descending together, scared

for having left limpidity behind. “Look,” he

told me (he was an angel, Umbriel by name),

“a lot of people here are utterly unaware they’re right

in the midst of a revolution until someone comes

with a banner showing on it the word REVOLUTION

in huge letters, and even then they send for the translator

(reluctant to take risks!) Moreover, they can no longer

understand love unless they plainly see the word LOVE

and listen to it being shouted, in spite of its felt presence

all around. One has to confine them to classrooms,

where they stay seated at their desks, dressed as they are,

in checkered first grade uniforms, glowing red-faced,

panting, unable to grasp one iota of what was being taught,

while tightly hugging the still beating, roughed-up hearts, as

teaching props. They play then, dipping their fingers in blood

and laugh, not knowing what it is – a fluid or a dye? – until

a TA shows up, rod in hand, and sternly points out to the word

GORE in a dictionary. “Look,” Umbriel added, “how carefree

and fulfilled seem those who had their experiences down there”

– he pointed to a troop of tiny beings on the run –

“and nobody’s noticing them until they’re killed

(though whatever they manage to accomplish is because

of their having dwelt for quite a bit on what a Revolution is about,

fully internalized Love, and the taste of Gore),

and the media is abuzz with them, and a Department of

SELF-FULFILLMENT is set up in the University.”

 

 

GEORGES ENESCO IN PARIS

 

Stooping, a lock of hair straying across

his brow, he’s entering the inner courtyard dignified,

warmly welcomed by his neighbors.

Still eager is he to underwrite new contracts,

for some Violin Concerto, the Princess

would so much like to entertain, even in the red

penumbra – a mask on his love-wounded

visage – until the dark and the limelight

completely interfuse becoming one.

He constantly changed lodgings to ever more cramped

quarters, until the final hotel was reached,

a place deemed fit to recapture his deep-seated melancholy,

the ruse employed by the ruthless sphinx. There are claws

which never let the prey go: the Chamber Symphony

for twelve solo instruments, Opus 33.

The land of the West is just what it appears to be,

whereas Romania’s soil is alchemical,

changing into countless things, no one can ever say

what it gets transformed into, for instance

into white, or in the remembrance

of an ancient fatherland with horses neighing

in the night and mysteries but half-surmised.

The memory of the old soil gets transmuted

into white, emptied of its sound,

turned into pure inwardness,

defying hearing. He, the one time Music-incarnate

is now Music-devoid-of-sound.

Still further, at a rehearsal of his opera Oedipe,

some players to the floor did drop their sheets, while

blurting out: ‘This is not music!’ Thereupon the conductor

countered with: ‘It is one of the marks of genius.’

The country’s philosophic landscape would point 

to either shock or revelation, pierce like an arrow, turn all into

a heap of ashes, or strike one down with lightning, yes, such were

the things, which happened on your death-bed, under that drab cloth,

you would bring to its peak the fiery dumbness

of the atonal lumps, while we,

from our eternal vantage point, focus on you

as you dislodge the incandescent bone

of nothingness, wrapped in your shroud,

with eyes sealed tight,

and lips soundlessly spelling out:

Hopefulness – Fear and trembling – Setting off…

 

 

A FRAIL BIRD

 

I saw people passing through the city

wearing woolen scarves which had been knitted

during many peaceful spells;

they looked like talkative birds

flying in and out of the cherry trees.

Any powerful shake would have

unraveled their scarves and had the sun

glistered like an acid knife,

which started hewing all that was flesh,

they would have fallen silent and let

themselves be carried through the branches

by an alien wind to skies resembling

smoke-blackened pans studded with stars,

having no woolen scarves round their necks,

with no word to put on

and none close by to say:

 “Man is a bird of the frail kind –

his eyes are limpid; his bones thin.”

 

 

THE POET

 

Shrewdly, he writes when nobody can see him,

his delicate hands having carved an earthen stronghold out in the open.

Whenever he is asked by paper characters: “What are you reading?”

or “What works are you preparing?” he doesn’t answer –

on the ground that it’s unseemly to put such questions to a rock.

Lying down on sheets of paper, he looks forward to getting retired

into the sacred illiteracy of mountain, river, and dawn.

He also longs to be a wave caressing the gravel. Heading West

he sometimes grows bird wings, some other times, fish fins.

Later, when they discover him

he will have mellowed for a long time in his haunt

and a sophisticated talk with him

will bring about both an utter confusion

and the ultimate silence. Once they left him, pleased to have been able

to jot down piles of notes which then they carry away in their arms,

the raw critics will be mowed down by a glacier

in mid July and will lie buried in snow until the next spring.

Then they will go home, where nobody is waiting

for them any longer. And there they will notice that

undreamt-of blooms have sprung from the palms of their hands.

 

 

MAKING FOR THE QUEEN’S HALL. A VISION IN CNOSSUS

 

Fed up with Father’s whip, the deadly hop-scotch,

and the compulsory diamond to be worn on the forehead,

let yourself be carried along the palace’s meandering hallways,

cautiously making for the Queen’s hall, yet not in a great hurry,

so that you may take in the music. Here everything is altogether

different; abandon your codes and goals to understand

the glory of these old stairways smelling of sandal wood,

and of mice as well. A mild reddish earthquake has just shaken

the walls, yet the cracks are not very impressive, and out

of them odd, cheeky blooms pop up their heads (picture yourself

coming up against the actual fire?); get down a little and you’ll note

the Great Grandfather’s slippers, flung by the easy chair (whilst he

keeps busy playing solitaire); if disregarded, all these innocuous

things could pronounce a radically different verdict, the big surprise,

that rumor running about the Queen’s whimsicality, that she’s somewhat

Bohemian, and a bit lazy, not quite punctilious, and definitely Eastern;

three kittens are watching you from their cushions on a settee,

that is no laughing matter, they’re wearing cherry-colored bow ties

round their necks, and any time may kill you, everything’s in the

power of the Queen’s naïve, scared, and readily glaring eyes,

and also in that of the gentle, comic, easily hurt, ruthless forces

reigning here – please, do accept the inconceivable way light here

keeps pouring on – the Queen has as many chambers as she

pleases; she happily sits wrapped up in countless veils,

while lava dogs surround her in the huge hall that is floored

with speckled slabs; just try picturing yourself driven onward

into the unfathomed haunt of Metamorphosis.

 

 

THE LAST ETRUSCAN

 

I’m living in the metropolis which only makes good use of me,

without any love. Still I think the weather here

is the sweetest one on the face of the earth.

The delightful colors leave my soul well-rounded,

as if in this place no one were sharpening weapons. This is

the spot where I’d enjoy living forever, yet

with all the keys of the palace in my hand, I’m waiting

for the appointed hour of departure. Distant creeds

have kept me alive. Words and faces of the night

help me lend consistency to my days.

What I see around is killing me,

yet I lavishly survive

by means of what I only know through mediated ways.

All that fate had in store for me I understood

one moment too late.

There are those who think differently, but they do not stand

as my opponents. Through a lush savannah I can make

my way – with neither struggles, nor humiliations

on either side. From where I’m not receiving

any love, I do, nevertheless, get my upkeep.

God in the guise of a child is descending

and serving me (yet he doesn’t belong to the place).

Every day I feed on his gifts in bowls

of platinum or eyelid-thin porcelain. I mindfully

refrain from having any untoward thoughts, or

from squandering the tiniest precious thing,

and I may catch sight of a jocose wink,

a mysterious complicity. Never does

the cup I’m sipping from look like earth,

or the thick dust upon its rim, like grime.

An unblemished splendor scintillates all over the place.

I must therefore press ahead without breaking

or spoiling any nearby things.

The present pay is cashed for something long forgotten.

Today I’m struggling for whatever will yield in the future.

My virtuosity, trained in the heartless city,

will provide for an innocent tribe,

bevies of rich children who needn’t put up a fight.

Although I am a banker here, the hidden gift bestowed on me

was that of fulguriator – the reader of lightning flashes,

rooted in the heritage of my people.

I am the last Etruscan, and exited already once before,

drawing History’s curtain behind me, at Viterbo,

Vetusal clan Thanas Tlesnal that’s all I can still spell

in my ancestors’ tongue, now I speak Latin.

And yet I haven’t forgotten my roots. My kids

are chattering on Via Appia, and I’ve become Maecenas

and, for my sake (or is it for my money?), poets, led by Virgil,

are trying hard to exalt the Etruscans:

This must be how Etruria grew strong,” *

as in his Second Georgic Virgil hasexclaimed –

Ha ha, overwhelmed by wealth, and somewhat in a hurry,

I’m pressing my hand on my chest, on the very spot where

the Ocean’s billows are smashing. Where lightning’s dart crosswise,

the unseen’s the winner. I can bear witness to that,

as the one who’s used to taking his leave again and again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

* The Georgics of Virgil . Bilingual Edition .

 

A translation by David Ferry Farrar, Straus and Giroux 

 —    New York     —      2006    —     p.89

 

Translated from the Romanian of

Simona-Grazia Dima by Heathrow O’Hare

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

____________________________________________

 

Simona-Grazia Dima was born in Timisoara, in a family of writers. When 8 years old she won a prize for a theatrical sketch, Lica’s Mask, which was staged by the Puppet Theatre in Timisoara, as well on tours throughout Romania and abroad. She graduated as a national valedictorian from the University of Timisoara, the Faculty of Filology. As a student, she was the president of the literary circle of the Students’ University Centre in Timisoara. Simona-Grazia Dima is mainly a poet, but also an essayist, a literary critic and a translator. She is an active contributor to the leading Romanian literary magazines and the author of ten books of poetry :Ecuaţie liniştită (Serene Equation),1985, Dimineţile gândului (Mornings of Thought), 1989, Scara lui Iacob (Jacob’s Ladder), l995, Noaptea romană (Roman Night), 1997, Focul matematic (The Mathematical Fire), 1997, Confesor de tigri (A Tiger’s Confessor), 1998, Ultimul etrusc (The Last Etruscan), 2002, Călătorii apocrife (Apocryphal Journeys), 2002, Dreptul rănii de a rămâne deschisă (The Right of the Wound to Be Left Gaping), 2003, La ora fulgerului (When Lightnings Start Flaring) She has published two books of essays and literary criticis and has translated from English Arthur Osborne’s Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-Knowledge (2003, title of the Romanian version: Sri Ramana Maharshi sau calea Cunoaşterii Supreme).

 

Simona-Grazia Dima is a member of the Romanian Writers’ Union and the secretary of the PEN Club-the Romanian Centre. She has been included in Romanian and foreign anthologies of poetry and received several prizes for her creation.

Articles similaires

Tags

Partager