By Lena Kallergi

Translated from the Greek by Joshua Barley



I begin

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,

making decisions 

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.

Every year

the same victor.


They might have believed my brother.

But he too

had a woman’s name.

Wasted effort.

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. 

The future?

What a waste of time.


I hung up the sign


Yesterday the mayor,

not knowing they were free,

ordered one.


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

A Ship to Spare

Read more of Joshua Barley’s prose and translations in Pericles at Play

Epitaph, by Joshua Barley 

On the Koile Road, by Joshua Barley

Arise, by Dimosthenis Papamarkos

In the Museum, by Kostas Peroulis


Pato Bosich

Jocasta and Oedipus with Tiresias


42cm x 29.7cm

oil paint, silver leaf, adhesive, on printed paper