Translations
Inga Gaile // A section from the poetry collection Cry Not Laugh/ Translated by I. Lešinska//Latvian Literature 6. Latvian Literature Centre

-A section from the poetry collection Cry Not Laugh/ Translated by I. Lešinska//Latvian Literature 6. Latvian Literature Centre (2005)

***

It is women’s time –
They direct the traffic of winds and streetcars,
Their plastic bags, full of pelmeni
And dogfood,
Turn into handbags embroidered by dew,
And every turn of their heads,
Like a knife sinking into meat,
Cuts some man’s vector.
It is women’s time –
Tresses fall slower than raindrops and eyes
Sing the night already at two post morn,
It is women’s time –
Barge haulers sport anemones
And soften the rattling of chains
With gentle and sparkling laughter.

***

What will we be like when we are very ancient, dust in the grooves of our
faces
and faded dewy hair,
what will we be like when our halls are empty of these
teachers swaying graceful like ballerinas, their sugarpea nipples
smiling,
what will we be like when we are waves in the river,
when our hands will not rise like masts,
when glass does not rattle with our laughter, what will we be like,
when neither the bullets of glances nor bicycles whine
and it’s winter,
when the ringlets of hair are stone and words flaming neon.
what will we be like, my love, when the bread
you clutch in your hand is in birds and the birds are the heavenly dome,
what will we be like
when the fish are rain and the rain is fish,
and the pits of almond eyes
do not conceal death?



* * *

When you paint a cage
and wait for the bird,
when you guess the bird’s song,
when the bird sings,
when the sky blooms like a peacock,
and stars shine in clusters,
then it’s the moment before awakening,
the moment before taking wing,
moment before the moment
when you’ll open the door of the cage
that has never been closed.



* * *

When it’s lunch break in all the churches, you still have sky’s whrinkled cheeks and footprints of swans in the clouds, same ones that will give us down bedding.
When the fog and the dark cover the bridges, you still have the hands that see everything and the whisper that finds its way over water when the sun flies away with the swans.
When it’s lunch break in all the churches, you still have sky’s wrinkled cheeks and the moment before darkness when the heart breaks and snow sparkles over the city.



***

My girlfriends know love, but I know joy.
Joy over painfully melting blue snowflakes on my lips,
Over the dance sun paints on my face –
no matter, no matter,
My girlfriends know love, but I know joy,
Loud and sparkling in my cupped hands,
That blossoms in the roses of blush
and in shame before the first morning streetcar.
Joy over my tears reflected in streetlamps,
joy over the silence in temples and the loud beating heart
in the sad eyes of a dog, the momentary blooms in your breath,
My girlfriends know love, but I know joy
Joy as if learning to waltz with child’s timidness and abandon
water fire air
joy like breathing and shouting – children are not born of joy
My children will be born of joy



***

The bird died in mid-sentence,
the black tears of dot dot dot
flow in the morning shrieking like crows.
Remembering the last three strokes
before the deluge, someone will spend a lifetime
looking for the other half of the sentence.



* * *

look how the fan spreads open,
night enters our house on heavy black legs
giving out tangerine wedges.
somewhere in town there’s blizzard and boys with huge eyes
and firecracker-filled pockets
dream the earth full of streets
where sunrays and moonrays can meet.
star bundles tied up with string
are somewhere sold for spring.
look how the fan spreads open,
I learn from night to night,
how to fade into gentle darkness,
not lose my wick, do it right.
and I write like a diligent first-grader -
in bread, in bread and in milk,
hoping that day will emerge through the dream.
that light like a feisty girl will come
and shake up the pillows,
their down will fly upward
without any knowledge of snow.
but somewhere the city has eyes
ships, idling in harbors, snore.
and boys break ice on the shore
laughing to conjure the infinite.



***
You’ve seen the sky, so I’d been told, I found that

moving; rustling I looked at you to see if there was something that was
more than
simply beaks of birds –
gaping skyward in their longing. The sea was rustling, there were
shrieks of seagulls
and of eyelids,
librarians and prophets – “The Sky-Seeing-Writings”, I simply looked
at you,
a make-believe miracle, flowing and darkening, the sea was longing
for tomorrow.
Someone must have lied to you – you said and laughed, a clock hung
in the sky,
time was in love.



* * *

And as it turns out, that woman sells herself,
And as it turns out, her pay is the smile of a child,
And as it turns out, we are so much alike –
all we know is love hate.
Caterpillar tracks across eyelids,
and a drop of yellow wine,
the main thing is not to swallow your pride –
we smirk, we smirk, we smirk.
I found her earring
in some gateway near Sakta,
and nothing at all like blue eyes,
to hell with the hairpins.
Time makes an appearance and we
tear wind off our shoulders,
The main thing is to throw back your head,
The main thing is to never grow old.
But did you know, this city steams
with warm vapors in the wee hours,
if we didn’t swallow it whole
it would even help us get warm.



* * *

Words do not matter.
Silence is our hero,
But I don’t trust him,
I always suspect him of hiding behind his back
an axe, a crowbar, a pair of scissors.
So I try to attack first, signal flares crackling,
fill the space up with words, hang little banners,
I sing, I dance, I laugh, I stumble, I skin my knees,
my face and hands, muddy my eyes and mouth,
the foxholes are far in the distance,
victory light years away,
So just a ceasefire – I sit, drink tea, twist one up,
my glance heavy as a woman’s who carries the world
in her chest.
Words do not matter, silence is our hero –
I brace myself, smile at him, whereas in fact I tremble with fear, pain,
Cold and hunger, and the day ends as usual – mud and weighed down
lips.
I wish I knew that silence is pregnant with rain and the opponent is
an awakened bird,
I wish my noises, the shrill of my bracelets would die down and
morning would come green with grass
swaying gently in the early rays. For silence is no hero,
silence is simply an ally.