dressed in time

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 55th birthday.

Yeşim Ağaoğlu
Turkish
b. 1966

 

she took off every thing that was on her
stark naked her body
save for the watch on her arm
jet-black wrist watch
so she donned that wrist watch, dressed herself up in time
like putting on a black cloak
the year was the space quarter, the season winter
the day tuesday
life lived on the spur of the moment as always
the watch works ticking on
her body works ticking on, forever alert
time, ever so abstract
now melted, dripping
as in dali’s painting
and where the hands of the watch meet
ıs her most punctual spot now.

Butterfly Laughter

Katherine Mansfield
Kiwi
1888 – 1923

 

In the middle of our porridge plates
There was a blue butterfly painted
And each morning we tried who should reach the butterfly first.
Then the Grandmother said: “Do not eat the poor butterfly.”
That made us laugh.
Always she said it and always it started us laughing.
It seemed such a sweet little joke.
I was certain that one fine morning
The butterfly would fly out of our plates,
Laughing the teeniest laugh in the world,
And perch on the Grandmother’s lap.

Silence

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 115th birthday.

Robin Hyde
Kiwi
1906 – 1939

 

I am tired of all voices. Friend and fool
Have come too nearly with me to the shrine
That is the secret kept by wind and pine.
Now, when the shadowy hands of dusk are cool
About my eyes, shall silence like a god
Drive them with whips of starlight from his stairs.
Only the small grass striving in its clod,
Only the stream, that fragile moonlight bears
Like blossoms on its breast, move in this place,

All earth lies still as some beloved face
Whose dreaming mouth and deep-curved eyelids make
Bridges to God that lightest sound would break,
Towers where one word would seem iconoclast. . . .
Yet if through darkening trees you came at last,
Wearing the dew of meadows on your shoon,
And in your eyes the blessing of the moon,
I think it would be well. I think our greeting
Would be as quiet as two rivers meeting,
Which, drawn together, sparkling up in foam,
Slide into one bright seeking; and our home
Should be the furthest longing of pale seas,
Beyond the purple caverns of the trees.

Those Like Me

Alda Merini
Italian
1931 – 2009

 

Those like me hand out dreams, even at the cost of being left dreamless…
Those like me give away their soul, because a soul is like a drop of water in the desert.
Those like me stretch out a hand and help you get up,
while running the risk of falling in turn.
Those like me look ahead,
even if their heart is some steps behind
Those like me search for a meaning to existence and, on finding it,
try to impart it to the ones who just survive.
Those like me, when in love, love forever.
and if they stop, it’s only because small fragments of being
lie powerless in the hands of life.
Those like me pursue the dream
of being loved for what they are
and not for what they are expected to be.
Those like me travel the world striving for values that
human souls have long forgotten
Those like me would really like to change,
but this would mean to be born again.
Those like me scream in silence,
so that their voice is not confused with tears.
Those like me are women whose hearts you are definitely going to break
because you know they’ll let you go, without a question.
Those like me love too much, even knowing that, in return,
they’ll receive nothing but crumbs.
Those like me feed on little and sadly build their existence on it
Those like me go unnoticed,
but they are the only women that will really love you
Those like me are the ones that, in the autumn of your life,
you will regret for what they might have given you
and you didn’t accept…

The Bells of Limerick

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 205th birthday.

Frances Browne
Irish
1816 – 1879

 

Oh! bright on the silvery Shannon lies
The light of the setting sun,
And stately the city’s spires arise,
Where the isle’s last field was won!
But now, no stain of the battle’s blood
Remains, to sully that peaceful flood,—
Nor sound in the summer-evening swells,
Save that of St. Mary’s vesper bells.

There came a late and a lonely boat,
O’er the shining river’s breast;
And it bore, from a land far, far remote,
A sad and a stranger guest:—
A darker tint had tinged his brow
Than the skies that bent above him, now,
Could give their sons—and a brighter beam
Had shone on his youth, by Tiber’s stream.

His was the peerless land of song,
By the Muses blest, of yore;
But his steps had wandered, far and long,
From the bright Hesperian shore:
And his early home was a darkened spot,—
For the love, that brightened his hearth, was not;
And heavy and chill the clouds of age
Fell on his lonely pilgrimage.

But still, in his memory’s echo, swelled
A sweet and a solemn chime,—
That oft, through the golden twilight pealed,
In his own far southern clime:—
Oh! many a city and many a shore
Had the weary pilgrim wandered o’er,—
But they never sent to his aged ear
The sounds he had loved—and pined to hear!

Yet why doth the stranger start,—and turn
From his lonely musings, now?
And why doth such glowing gladness burn
In his aged eye and brow?
‘Tis only the vesper bells, again,
That ring from St. Mary’s sacred fane,—
But oh! to the wanderer’s heart they tell
Of scenes and voices remembered well!

His arm was strong, and his hope was bright,
When he tuned to melody
Those vesper bells, in the cloudless light
Of his own Italian sky;—
And now, on a distant northern shore,
That music breathed on his heart once more—
Though the strength and hope of his years were past—
As sweet as when he heard it last!

For the light of many a twilight hour,
And the breath of many a strain,
From cottage porch, and from myrtle bower,
With that sound returned again:—
And the wanderer listened, like one whose soul
Had found the path to its early goal,—
But his eyes were fixed, and his very breath
Seemed hush in the changeless hush of death!

Fainter and fainter the last low note
On the waters died away;
And the rowers paused,—for the lonely boat
By the stately city lay.
But the wanderer moved not—spoke not—still,
Though the dews of night fell fast and chill,
And strangers lifted his drooping head,—
But they found that the weary soul had fled!

Oh! strange were the yearning thoughts and fond
Round that lone heart’s ruined shrine,—
As the Hebrew’s thirst for the fount beyond
Philistia’s leaguering line!
But the sounds, that in life he loved the best,
May peal, unheeded, above his rest,—
For still, through the summer twilight, swells
The sound of St. Mary’s vesper bells!

I’m the Girl Banned from Attending Christian Religion Classes

We present this work in honor of Coptic Christmas Day.

Shaimaa al-Sabbagh
Egyptian
1984 – 2015

 

I’m the girl banned from attending Christian religion classes, and Sunday mass
Although I am a witness to the crucifixion of Jesus
In Train Station Square at the height of the morning
Even then, all the windows were open and the blood was racing the cars on the asphalt
The eyes of the girls were running in Heaven, catching the forbidden rocking chair.

I am the girl banned from love in the squares
I stood in the middle of the street and gathered in my hand the stars of the sky, individually,
And the sweat of the street vendors
The voices of beggars
And the people who love God as they damn this moment that the creatures of God approved
To crucifying Jesus naked in the crowded square on the clock arms as it declared one at noon
I, the girl banned from saying no, will never miss the dawn

The Three Kings

We present this work in honor of Three Kings Day.

Edith Nesbit
English
1858 – 1924

 

When the star in the East was lit to shine
The three kings journeyed to Palestine;

They came from the uttermost parts of earth
With long trains laden with gifts of worth.

The first king rode on a camel’s back,
He came from the land where the kings are black,

Bringing treasures desired of kings,
Rubies and ivory and precious things.

An elephant carried the second king,
He came from the land of the sun-rising,

And gems and gold and spices he bare
With broidered raiment for kings to wear.

The third king came without steed or train
From the misty land where the white kings reign.

He bore no gifts save the myrrh in his hand,
For he came on foot from a far-off land.

Now when they had travelled a-many days
Through tangled forests and desert ways,

By angry seas and by paths thorn-set
On Christmas Vigil the three kings met.

And over their meeting a shrouded sky
Made dark the star they had travelled by.

Then the first king spake and he frowned and said:
‘By some ill spell have our feet been led,

‘Now I see in the darkness the fools we are
To follow the light of a lying star.

‘Let us fool no more, but like kings and men
Each get him home to his land again!’

Then the second king with the weary face,
Gold-tinct as the sun of his reigning place,

Lifted sad eyes to the clouds and said,
‘It was but a dream and the dream is sped.

‘We dreamed of a star that rose new and fair,
But it sets in the night of the old despair.

‘Yet night is faithful though stars betray,
It will lead to our kingdoms far away.’

Then spake the king who had fared alone
From the far-off kingdom, the white-hung throne:

‘O brothers, brothers, so very far
Ye have followed the light of the radiant star,

‘And because for a while ye see it not
Shall its faithful shining be all forgot?

‘On the spirit’s pathway the light still lies
Though the star be hid from our longing eyes.

‘To-morrow our star will be bright once more
The little pin-hole in heaven’s floor–

‘The Angels pricked it to let it bring
Our feet to the throne of the new-born King!’

And the first king heard and the second heard
And their hearts grew humble before the third.

And they laid them down beside bale and beast
and their sleeping eyes saw light in the East.

For the Angels fanned them with starry wings
And the waft of visions of unseen things.

And the next gold day waned trembling and white
And the star was born of the waxing night.

And the three kings came where the Great King lay,
A little baby among the hay,

The ox and the ass were standing near
And Mary Mother beside her Dear.

Then low in the litter the kings bowed down,
They gave Him gold for a kingly crown,

And frankincense for a great God’s breath
and Myrrh to sweeten the day of death.

The Maiden Mother she stood and smiled
And she took from the manger her little child.

On the dark king’s head she laid His hand
And anger died at that dear command.

She laid His hand on the gold king’s head
And despair itself was comforted.

But when the pale king knelt in the stall
She heard on the straw his tears down fall.

And she stooped where he knelt beside her feet
And laid on his bosom her baby sweet.

And the king in the holy stable-place
Felt the little lips through the tears on his face.

Christ! lay Thy hand on the angry king
Who reigns in my breast to my undoing,

And lay thy hands on the king who lays
The spell of sadness on all my days,

And give the white king my soul, Thy soul,
Of these other kings the high control.

That soul and spirit and sense may meet
In adoration before Thy feet!

Now Glory to God the Father Most High,
And the Star, the Spirit, He leads us by.

And to God’s dear Son, the Babe who was born
And laid in the manger on Christmas morn!

La Felicidad

Agripina Samper Agudelo
Colombian
1833 – 1892

 

I have children and a husband… I have more;
I have a loving and affectionate mother,
Brothers who love me and whom I love,
And instead of the false glitter of wealth
I have a modest and tranquil home

In another time my fervent heart
Dreamed restlessly, and I lived on the dream,
Fantastic chimeras night and day,
Delusions crowded in… I dreamed anyway
But then the horizon cleared,
The dark cloud turned to dawn,
Calm returned to my heart, and now
The present ensures my future

Alone at another time, like an errant bird
That crosses desert sands,
And after long mortal years of anxiety,
Arrived at the oasis it had faithfully sought;
Feeling myself finally free of fatigue,
And if I cast a look to the past,
It is only to bring it from burdensome effusion
To rest it on my present love.

Love

We present this work in honor of the 10th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Eva Stritmatter
German
1930 – 2011

 

How terrible was the flame
In which together we once burned
In the end an ember remains
And the usual happens, even to us.
That’s not ash, that last trace of fire
Shows our daily work. And how precious
this tiny bit of warmth, I learned
in this worst year
of all my years.
Should another winter like this come
and another such snow fall upon me
Only this warmth can save me
from death. What else
should hold me? What remains of our Love:
We had each other. No grass
will grow over us, no stone
so long as this ember glows.

So long as there’s an ember
there might be fire…