Monday, November 30, 2015

"The Bear" by leana Mălăncioiu

I happened on this poem on the site of Southword Editions, a publishing branch of the Munster Literature Centre in Ireland. They have a quite sturdy selection of translated poetry from throughout Europe. The following poem is by Romanian poet leana Mălăncioiu, translated by Irish poet Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, from the book After the Raising of Lazarus.


The Bear

In the high mountain grass, my body curled like the snakes
Crept out to warm themselves in the sun and stiff with pain
I wait for the bear to arrive, to stoop beside me,
To stay there awhile, sniffing me in silence, again.

Seeing that I am still alive and that I want him to heal me
To begin the soft trampling from shoulder to feet
So I feel him gliding over my ribs and kneeling without wanting to
And getting down on the grass when he knows it’s hurting me,

Climbing up again gently along the spine as far as the neck
Hearing my vertebrae crackling under his wild right paw
And I can’t cry out in fear since while he’s passing over me
To heal me, if I screamed he might put out his claws,

Let me rid myself of this female husk of a snake curled in the sun,
Let the bear find the earth shifting as he makes me straight,
Gently, under his weight, trembling as he bends,
Let me coil myself again groaning quietly and wait.

Then let the cure come, let me go through the trampled grass
And feel for once my body hot from his heavy tread
While the bear moves off slowly as if he were still
Stepping not on the earth, but on a woman’s shoulders instead.

by Ileana Mălăncioiu

English translation by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin

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