By Lena Kallergi
Translated from the Greek by Joshua Barley
when other poets have already died
I hang sheets in the rain
to guide the water
so it doesn’t fall at random;
and let anyone who wants walk the wet roads.
Like I permanently have a nursing child
at night I take doses of sleep,
ready to jump up.
It won’t be easy when your baby
is Hecuba’s grandchild.
I tried my hand at dream-interpreting
I liked the uniform, its green sleeves,
on the meaning of fur on ruff
and the black priests
who visit virgins at night.
But I always had to
hear about dreams.
I wanted to join
spider’s web with tiger’s claw
the nibs of rose leaves
with ten different sunflowers,
the start with the edge of the day.
I was left with wet hair
with fish memories, crossing rivers.
Fireworks on the banks.
Jaws of fire clamped on night’s neck.
There is no other way.
I followed the procession of boats.
the same victor.
They might have believed my brother.
But he too
had a woman’s name.
I won’t read any more palms.
I told them to accept the gifts
to give birth to the children
to welcome the bride.
They were no-hopers anyway.
What a waste of time.
I hung up the sign
I CULTIVATE HARBOURS.
Yesterday the mayor,
not knowing they were free,
The snakes are silent,
tongues of wind lay siege to the branches,
the neighbours make jam
with fruits of the forest.
My road always one day from the end.
Don’t you hear the wisteria caressing the ruins
at the moon’s waxing?
Forget the other guard posts,
just look after yourself.
Don’t sleep too close to the shore.
Read more of Lena Kallergi’s poems in Pericles at Play:
Read more of Joshua Barley’s prose and translations in Pericles at Play:
On the Koile Road, by Joshua Barley
Jocasta and Oedipus with Tiresias
42cm x 29.7cm
oil paint, silver leaf, adhesive, on printed paper