Curvature of Shoulder
Translated by Daniel Weissbort
Against the background of a smoky female shoulder
is the dark smaller one of the bottle,
or the other way round:
depending on whether one is sitting or lying down.
Now I know what maturity means: I invite
the loveliest girlfriends to share a bottle, but my object is
the little shoulder
of the bottle, while the smoky female one is just a bit of
fluff, decoration, so to speak.
How can they stand it?
This is lousy behaviour, an old man's vice:
to hug a cool bottle,
while gazing at a girlfriend seated a little way off.
what interests me
is the texture of love,
the fragility of this texture.
There are those labels on clothes:
'iron at no more than 40 degrees'.
Yes, iron by hand,
avoid overheating, and especially
never bring to the boil etc.
I'm not interested in you,
although you do excite me.
But the texture, the texture.
In England there is no consolation for death.
O, fortunate Russians!
How their frantic efforts cheer one:
flying back and forth to some other city after Hungarian
phoning New York and securing an invitation for a dying man,
rousing all the Christians of Europe.
Now you're the hero,
and what's more, a tragic one.
But in England
there is no consolation for death.
Sometimes, all the same, one wants
to write poetry in English.
I know, when this "sometimes" is.
It's when one has committed some tactless
or shameful act.
One may begin with "Actually"
and then continue in English,
soi-disant humorously, narrating
how, for instance, in London, I was once introduced to a
female from Thailand,
and she held out her hand and, fool that I was,
I shook it vigorously, but her fingers
were beset with rings, veritable hoops,
and I squeezed so hard that in Thailander's face
there was an expression of pain,
and her eyes filled with tears.
it was May,
after many entreaties and requests,
I was at last permitted to go out
But in this country
the months stick together,
You've just got to live and die
in a mac.
I kissed her, well, approximately five and a half times.
And each time she squinted and turned into
a bird: as if to say, it wasn't me any longer, I'd nothing
to do with it...
Since then, my usual answer to the question "Have you ever
kissed a bird?"
is in the affirmative.
I want to speak about a dead friend, about the frame of
which feel cold without his ears, without the bridge of his
nose. But I can't.
It's phoney, because he, I, and the one reading this
are all in the same context, that of death.
To lament somebody is phoney, egotistical.
Just try telling me I'm wrong.
“Poetry happens everywhere,” writes Daniel Weissbort in the introduction to Mother Tongues, “but sometimes, often, it happens in languages that do not attract attention. We are the poorer for not experiencing it, at least to the extent it can be experienced in translation.”
Daniel Jack Weissbort, translator and poet, born 30 April 1935; died 18 November 2013