Knuts Skujenieks // Sēkla sniegā [A Seed in the Snow].

-Sēkla sniegā [A Seed in the Snow]. Riga: Liesma (1990)


I’m not conquerable I’m not destroyable in the open
field trampled cursed and spat on
don’t look at my bones that ever slower
walk under my skin but if you wish to look perhaps
this is a lesson listen to my words listen
listen hear listen again but listen
because my words are my work and other work I don’t have
I won’t have
a battle in life in which I’ll be the loser because
I don’t have either a bayonet or war ruse only words
I place in the centre in the most open place to root after
a year or two hundred what does it matter? if right now or
after seven ounces of sweat what does it matter?
my bones aren’t worth a penny because I have words and they’re
not janis’ peter’s or knuts skujenieks’ words these WORDS are
if you want to look balance bones on elbows or
put your foot in front but a word is a word even forgotten
it leaves echoes in the forest circles in water and peoples’
discord with life and themselves
even the most vulgar word the most bitter word is human
not for me to know nor you where these words come from
or where they go to
and our lack of knowledge keeps us alive indebted to death
our being
so listen hear beside me root
and you shall not be conquered


from the centre from silence
from the very core
may it reach you and sink
in the most profound sense

after which I’ll start to say
before which I’ll stop to say
the word I forever search for
and never shall say


Il n’y a plus rien de moi
Et ceux qui craignent les brulures…
Guillaume Appolinaire

This is the last barricade, firing line, red zone.
Across it
we no longer shall stand hand in hand
neither friend nor deputy or drinking pal.

This is the last day, last sentence, last chance.
On the boundary the word we shall burn.
The word you won’t make it through fire.
Only they will remain.

Tonight let’s sit on our baggage of reason,
on the backpacks of our sense of honour
let’s count the small change of our life
needed to reach our destination – or return.

Let’s sit together till the morning.

Translated by Margita Gailitis.

© Margita Gailitis
All rights reserved

(c) For copyright permission, contact the Latvian Literature Centre (LLC) or the Latvian Copyright and Communication Consulting Agency - (AKKA/LAA)