Two poems by Liliana Ursu.

Poem with a Griffin, a Pike and Peacocks.

I am reading a poem while it rains.
The day blinks
through windows guarded by a griffin; its talons
flex, its tail switches.
Do you remember those summer showers high in the mountains?
The dull pop of a toadstool beneath your bare foot
in the dew-covered grass?
Under a crystal bell jar, the still life-fleshy ripe bananas,
cherries, lemons and the silver knife you bargained for in the bazaar
as the Bhosphorus sparkled at the feet of the one you loved.
On the wobbly kitchen table, with that very knife,
you slit open a pike.
And the hunting rifle, propped against stuffed peacocks-
has it turned into a lapdog
licking the other woman’s hands
as she weighs my pearls…?


In the Forest

I wrote the essential poem on an oar
just before setting out.
Perhaps long ago it’s been erased
or maybe the sea
knows it now
by feel.

Like the woman in Rousseau’s painting
I shudder
at the sound of footsteps
-when the fear comes on too strong.

The path I follow
is a knife blade.
maybe this is why
the sky behind the forest
is now so red.

I wrote the essential poem on an oar
just before setting out.

These two poems are taken from the Bloodaxe published book,  The Sky Behind the Forest by Poet Liliana Ursu. It is translated by Tess Gallagher and Adam Sorkin.

I really like the book, but I always make one suggestion when recommending it, and that is to read and absorb the beautiful writing before reading the introductory and translators essays. The essays are highly important in establishing the appalling context of censorship under which the poet suffered, but one can feel it also in the powerful writing.

The Sky Behind the Forest, Liliana Ursu. Trans, Liliana Ursu, Tess Gallagher,
Adam J Sorkin. Bloodaxe Books. 1997.


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