Translations of four poems by Tzveta Sofronieva
[ poetry - july 11 ]
Bulgarian-born TzvetaSofronieva writes short stories, essays and poetry in her mother tongue and in her adopted language, German. She was awarded Germany's Adelbert-von-Chamisso-Förderpreis, a prize given to emerging writers whose mother tongue and/or cultural background are not German, in 2009. The poems included here are taken from Eine Hand voll Wasser (Unartig: Aschersleben, 2008).
When Zeus turned his back on her
The language that used to be my home
is now a feather in Europe's wing:
Will it fly or admire its own beauty,
narcissistically, in the spring?
We met nowhere
but we always planned to have breakfast,
smell the early morning coffee, get acquainted.
“Good morning!” Europe splutters.
A little extra foam. Seduction at the rim.
A creamy tornado builds in a cup,
a lone black stripe at the centre
(espresso, express, French press?)
We age faster than we think.
Pleasure. Unification as temptation,
an advance on wished-for dreams.
I can conceive of orgasms,
even experience some that never took place -
those where peoples
pass constitutions in a collective frenzy.
And you charm me into inhabiting new places.
(Only yesterday I was ready to give up on life.)
Cells dance on my lips,
mischievous cells, multiplying exponentially.
Choose life, you say, quickly
commit to slowness.
And endorse the expansion of the future.
A ship it comes a-laden
This is the history of passion
and the passion of history.
She loves me, she loves me not, she
The southern music turns my skin,
and I stand there in a different light:
my thighs - skeins of muscle with fat,
my hips - ones that enclose my womb,
my breasts - contracting lungs,
my lips - the tips of hungry valves,
my hair - the extension of my cerebral membranes.
We have at least two faces when we are conceived.
The oracle at Delphi cursed Europe's renaissance.
This city cannot be both Salonica and Thessaloniki,
we don't belong to two worlds.
Our sails sank into a sea
which was neither the Black nor the White.
We reached land at Smyrna, or was it Izmir?
Pergamon and Ephesus radiate waves and steps.
Who creates history?
And who has the monopoly on its telling?
She has no house, swims all across the ocean,
has twenty thousand that will do,
she knows pain and her own borders,
is free to dwell and wander,
she reads the sea and gives birth to it again,
her nerve cells suffice for her to recognize.
Aplysia is a conscious being.