Mummies are a method, not the result.

Language: Slovenian
Poet: Meta Kušar
Translator: Ana Jelnikar and Barbara Siegel Carlson

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Mummies are a method, not the result

Five poems by Meta Kušar translated from Slovenian by Ana Jelnikar & Barbara Siegel Carlson

Meta Kušar, poet and essayist, was born in Ljubljana in 1952. Her poetry collection Ljubljana was translated into Slovak in 2008 and English in 2010 (tr. by Ana Jelnikar & Stephen Watts). Her most recent publication is a book of interviews with a range of prominent Slovene artists she has  interviewed over the last decade. Since 1980 she has regularly contributed to the Slovene National Radio and the rai-Trieste with cultural and historical talks.
Ana Jelnikar’s most recent publications include Look Back, Look Ahead: Selected Poems of Srečko Kosovel (Ugly Duckling Presse, co-translated with Barbara Siegel Carlson, 2010), and Meta Kušar’s poetry collection Ljubljana (Arc Publications, 2010, co-translated with Stephen Watts). Her book on Slovene poet Srečko Kosovel and Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore is forthcoming from Oxford University Press (India).
Barbara Siegel Carlson is the author of the poetry collection Fire Road (Dream Horse Press, 2013) and co-translator with Ana Jelnikar of Look Back, Look Ahead, Selected Poems of Srečko Kosovel  (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010). Poems and translations have appeared in Prairie Schooner, New Ohio Review, and are forthcoming in Metamorphosis and Avatar Review.  She is currently co-editing an anthology of contemporary Slovene poetry.

Voda

Grk oživlja z mesečevo vodo.
Ljubezen ne pozna trupel, čeprav je mrtvo telo usoda.
Pesmi ne zavržeš.
Ljubezni ne zavržeš.
Pesem srka drobljivost.
Delčke zloži v belo luč obdano z lupino.
Pingvini z majhno nesmrtno dušo naredijo enako.
Njihova vera je jajce pri nogah narave.

Water

A Greek will revive you with moon water.
Love knows not of corpses, although a dead body is fate.
You don’t throw away poems.
You don’t throw away love.
The poem absorbs fragility.
Composes the small parts into the white light of a shell.
Penguins with their small immortal souls do the same.
Their faith is an egg at nature’s feet.

Mumije

Dróbci so kost.
Ni ženske brez moškega in njegovega sveta.
Ni moškega brez ženske in njenega sveta.
Ljubezen je edina garancija za duševno obnovo.
Kadar pridem iz goreče hiše molčim.
Uveljavljati se začno grozni stvori in nakaze,
Heraklit že tipa za piščalko in kliče izravnavo.
Vojaki in samostalniki so takoj pepel.
Tintni svinčnik drsi po dolgih spiskih strahu.
Zapisuje mrtve in dolžnike, ceno in trpljenje.  
Od vekomaj oživljamo mrliče.
Mumije so metoda, ne rezultat.
Španski vetrc drži skupaj konec in začetek.
Kadar zavržeš del, ne moreš več sestaviti celote.

Mummies

Fragments are bone.
There is no woman without a man and his world.
No man without a woman and her world.
Love is the only warranty for the soul to revive.
When I come out of the burning house I’m speechless.
Hideous freaks and monsters begin to assert themselves.
Heraclitus is already feeling for his flute and calling for balance.
Soldiers and nouns turn to ashes.
The grease pencil slides down the long lists of fear.
It makes note of the dead and the debtors, the cost and the suffering.
For ever we bring the dead back to life.
Mummies are a method, not the result.
Meringue cookies hold the end and beginning together.
When you reject a part, you can no longer assemble the whole.

Eden

Prvi ima njegove oči,
drugi njegove lase,
tretji njegov glas.
Dvajseti njegove stavke,
dvestoti njegov posluh,
tisoči njegov smeh,
tristo tisoči njegov jezik.
Imam jaz njegovo srce?
Nisem si izmišljevala.
Nič prirejala. Nič čakala.
Samo pričakovala.
Okušam domišljijo starih in novih dni.
Kakšen vesel študij.

One

The first has his eyes,
the second his hair,
the third his voice.
The twentieth his sentences,
the two hundredth his ear for music.
The thousandth his laughter,
the three hundred thousandth his tongue.
Do I have his heart?
I wasn’t imagining things.
Embellishing anything. I never waited.
Only expected.
I taste the imagination of days old and new.
What a happy course.

Zakaj ne pišem ljubezenskih pesmi?

Popek sredi doma je resnična večna lučka.
Vsaka celica telesa se prebudi z enim samim dotikom.
Presvetli vse od Ahilove tetive do medulle oblongate,
od levega mezinca do desnega kazalca; sredica je zraven.
Objemi in poljubi zbujajo večno željo,
da bi bil vsak delček telesa prežet s svetlobo.
Presvetljeno telo! Ne zapušcaj ga. Jaz ga ne zapustim.
Kaj bi z ljubeznijo, ki je dovoljena ali prepovedana!
Vse je zamena za ogenj in ogenj je zamena za vse.
Razsvetlí jetra in oči in nos.
Obraze, ki jih pogledaš, zagledaš.
Črka naredi besedo in beseda naredi vrt
in vrt naredi toploto in toplota posuši dušo.
Suha duša je Kneipp. Vse ozdravi z vodo.
Kos brez postanka smisel žgoli.
Rožnata ni manj resnična od Hudiča, ki razbija puščavo.
Človeka ne, če ne pusti. Ljubezen sveti kot Hánuka,
kot diváli, kot sv. Lucija. V šotoru zastane.
Za mrtve in žive gori. Zveri zadrži. Strela je ogenj kovač.
V glasu ga slišim, ko še nisi skovan.
V glasu ga slišiš samo podkovan. Ves isti, a drug.
Iskra takoj preobrazi. Ogenj gori, da smrt ne pride zraven.
Najtanjša folija, brezsnovna, odceja zlo.
Nič sem in tja. Nič tja in sem in spet nazaj.
Oči odgrnem! Zora je resnicna mana. Pozobljejo jo ateisti.

Why don't I write love poems?

A bud in the middle of home is a true eternal flame.
At a touch every cell of the body awakens.
Illuminating everything from the Achilles heel to medulla oblongata,
from the left little finger to the right index finger; the rest accordingly.
Hugs and kisses ignite the eternal desire
that every inch of the body were shot through with light.
Illuminated body! Don’t leave it. I won’t.
What do you do with love that’s permitted or forbidden!
It’s all a substitute for fire and fire’s a substitute for all.
Illuminating the liver, the eyes and the nose.
The faces that you look at, see.
A letter makes a word and the word makes a garden
and the garden creates warmth and the warmth dries the soul.
A dry soul is Kneipp. Water heals everything.
Without pause, the blackbird chirps meaning.
The rose is no less real than the devil swirling storms in the desert.
But not in the man unless he lets him. Love lights up like Hanukkah,
Diwali, and St. Lucia. In the tent it pauses.
Burns for the dead and the living. Holding the beasts at bay.
A lightning bolt is the blacksmith’s fire.
In my voice I hear him not yet minted.
In your voice you hear him only just shod. All the same, only different.
A spark transforms on the spot. The fire burns so death can’t come close.
The thinnest foil, immaterial, strains evil.
No back-and-forth. No forth-and-back and back again.
I draw open the eyes! Dawn is the true manna. Pecked at by atheists.

Prva miza

Temno modra smokva zori.
Mladiči lastovic še poznajo rdeče sladkosti.
Zgarana lastovka jadra v vročini in pôje,
ko mladiči že sami lové.
Prehraniti dve legli je skoraj umreti.
Noga ene mize stoji na izviru.
Zarana pobiram verze z nje.
Sonce jo nagne in sadeži zdrsnejo, ne vem kam.
Z rokami na kolenih poslušam,
kaj mizica hoče. Zahodna je morska, ležerna.
Pisma že devet let nisem prepognila.
Besede materializiram z juga na sever.
S severa na sever? Ne vem, kje sem.
Iz srca v srce je najkrajša pot.
Z roko napisati pismo je prelepo.
Najprej zakroži med zvezdami.
Netopirji ga ubranijo vseh pasti.

Kako brez papirja položiti glas na dlan?

First Table

A dark blue fig tree ripens.
The swallows’ young still know of red sweet things.
The worn-out swallow sails in the heat and sings
while its young already catch on their own.
To feed both nests is almost to die.
One leg of the table stands at the source.
At the crack of dawn I pick the verses off.
The sun tilts it, the fruits slide off, I don’t know where.
With my hands on my knees I listen
to what the little table wants.
The western one is the seaside one, the leisurely one.
I haven’t folded the letter for nine years.
I materialize words from south to north.
From north to north? I don’t know where I am.
From heart to heart is the shortest path.
To handwrite a letter is lovely.
First it does a round among the stars.
Bats ward off all the traps.

How to lay your voice in the palm without paper?