Poems by Gabriel Rosenstock in translation

A Word

A word they have in Tierra del Fuego:
Mamihlapinatapai –
The act of looking at each other
Hoping that one of the parties concerned
Will carry out some desirable deed
(Desired by both parties)
But which neither party
Is much in the mood
To carry out.

Swan 

until he was four years of age
Lucian Blaga was
as quiet
as a swan
it was in that period
that he learned
about philosophy
and about poetry
let us search the whole
wide world
let us look for people
who
are in their
swanhood
they will be known by their silence

The wind hushed

I don’t believe in ghosts
but there is a creature at the bottom of the garden
this January morning
standing in the snow
not a stir out of him
no weeping or gasping from the wind

I don’t know if his back is to me or not
because there are branches between us
bare cold branches between me and the person
who is me
a ghostly witness to the world

no weeping or gasping from the wind
from an unknown dumb pitiless world
mercilessly snow will fall again
the sky will be a frozen grey slate

a magpie comes
examines the ice in the birdbath
too solid; he could never break it with his beak
off he goes
why do I not break it for him?
but how?
I am too long looking at myself
I’m not inside
nor am I he, the one outside. 

Translated from the Irish (Gaelic) by the author

These poems were presented at Smolenice Castle, Slovakia,
as part of a Literature Across Frontiers translation workshop, 7-14 July 2012.