Evening comes into our house – a little bitter and very clean
Sunset.

Language: Latvian
Poet: Amanda Aizpuriete
Translator: Inara Cedrins

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Evening comes into our house – a little bitter and very clean

5 poems by Amanda Aizpuriete translated from Latvian by Inara Cedrins

Amanda Aizpuriete was born in Jurmala in 1956 and studied philosophy and philology at the Latvian State University and at the M. Gorky Literary Institute in Moscow. Nine books of her poetry have been published, including Ascension Street (1986), The Last Summer (1995), The Outskirts of Babel (1999), In Skies of Heather (2003), Windfall of Poems (2004), Twilight Loves You (2005), Tonight I Was A Green Bird (2012), There (3013) and a novel.
Inara Cedrins is American visual artist, writer, and translator.  Her first anthology of contemporary Latvian poetry, featuring six poets in occupied Latvia and six in exile, was published by the University of Iowa Press; a new Baltic anthology was published by the University of New Orleans Press in 2013. Recent poems have appeared in Tabula PoeticaDenver QuarterlyHayden’s Ferry ReviewLuminaThe Kenyon ReviewEllipsisSpillwayAskew, and New Mexico Poetry Review.

[Tālu aiz pilsētas krītošu raķešu gaismā]

Tālu aiz pilsētas krītošu raķešu gaismā
Kareivja māte izkravā manu maisu.

Tur purva, nakts un nāves smarža visam.
Māt, vai mēs uzvarai ticam?

Pulkstenis, šķiltavas, dzeltējošs meitenes smaids.
Papira driskas. Pēdējais sveiciens? Vaids?

Dzeja. Par nakti, purvu un nāvi.
Tālāk par naktīm, purviem un nāvēm –

Par pilsētu. Par pieneni. Par mums.

[Far beyond the city in the light of falling rockets]

Far beyond the city in the light of falling rockets
The soldier’s mother loaded a sack with objects.

There was a grove, night and the smell of death on everything.
Mother, do we still believe in victory?

Clock, cigarette lighter, the golden smile of a girl.
Tatters of paper. A last greeting? A wail?

Poetry. About night, the grove and death.
Further than nights, groves and deaths –

About the city. About a dandelion. About us.

[Simtiem reižu sacīts: baidies miera.]

Simtiem reižu sacīts: baidies miera.
Ilgi baidījusies, nu vairs nebaidos.
Attek migla – manu namu
Baltiem karodziņiem post.
Nāve papļāpāt ar mani nekautrējas.
Vienas cilts mēs esam,
Vienas dzejas,
Naktīs klausos tos, kas elpo tālu
Puķu, klusuma un drupu zemē.

[A hundred times it’s been said: fear peace.]

A hundred times it’s been said: fear peace.
Long having feared, I no longer fear.
Fog flows in – my house
attacked by white flags.
Death is not shy of chattering to me.
We are of one tribe,
one poem.
Nightly I listen to those who breathe, distant,
in the land of flowers, silence and ruins.

[Šonakt pelītes pa grīdu tekalēja,]

Šonakt pelītes pa grīdu tekalēja,
Slazdu nebija. Bērni miegā smējās.

Mēness nespīdēja. Palma puķupodā šņāca –
Sapņoja par tuksnesi, bet lāgā nesanāca.

Šonakt nebij iemesla nekāda
Sadedzināt veco ādu.

Kāpēc rītam tāda gruzdum smaka?
Kāpēc tev ir jauna seja? Kāpēc taisnību
Neviens man nepasaka?

[Tonight mice scrabbled over the floor.]

Tonight mice scrabbled over the floor.
There was no trap. Children laughed in their sleep.

The moon didn’t shine. The palm in its flowerpot snored –
dreamed of desert, but did not arrive at comprehension.

Tonight there was no reason
to burn old skin.

Why does morning have that smell of smouldering rubbish?
Why do you have a new face? Why isn’t truth
told me by anyone?

[Man uzdāvināja ziemas balto puķi]

Man uzdāvināja ziemas balto puķi
ar visu rūgto dubļu smaržu klāt.
Nu kā man viņu nest uz rāmām mājām,
kur vāzes viz un galds stāv spodri klāts?

Tā dubļu smarža lepnās ziedlapiņas . . .
Stiepj roku asfalts – vienīgais, kuršdrīkst
šo puķi paturēt. Vēl, iepinies man matos,
viens ziedputeksnis smaržo – balts un sīks.

Nak mūsu mājās vakars – mazliet rūgtens
un ļoti tīrs. Ak patiesības trūkst?
Es šoziem atkal varēju būt jauna
un mīlēta. Kā mani mīlat jūs?

[I was given the gift of winter’s white flower]

I was given the gift of winter’s white flower
with all the bitter smell of mud attached.
Now how shall I carry it to a peaceful home
where vases glitter and the table is pristinely laid?

That smell of mud in proud blossoms . . .
asphalt reaches for it – the only place permitted
to keep this flower. Still wound into my hair.
One drift of flowers is scented – white and rare.

Evening comes into our house – a little bitter
and very clean. Oh reality is missing?
I could have been this winter, young again
and loved. How do you love me?

[Es uzzināju senu recepti,]

Es uzzināju senu recepti,
Kā bedu aizdabūt no mājas.
Vajag ar jūras ūdeni nomazgāt grīdas,
Jaunu uguni pavardā iekurt
Un dejot plānvidū- kā dzirkstīm ugunī,
Kā zvaigznēm debesīs – tik tīri dejot.
Vai mums kā pietrūkst?
– Mūzikas šai dejai
Vai arī mājas tādai mūzikai.

[I learned an old recipe]

I learned an old recipe
for driving sorrow from the house.
One must wash the floor with sea water,
kindle a new fire in the hearth
and dance within – like sparks to fire,
like stars in the sky – to dance so cleanly.
Is anything lacking?
– Music for this dance
or perhaps a house for such music.