Poems by Eva Luka in translation


Every night
he comes to me with laboured
wings, drenched with rain. I make a place
for him in my bed, on my thighs feeling
the coldness of his embrace; I strive
to hug his black-sad head to my breast.
It takes so long to become used to the burden, which
he grants me as a gift, it takes so long to warm
my solitary legs. With resignation
my pale skin accepts the transparent moistness of water,
of a ravenangel’s sperm and spit. Who’s to say where he wanders when
night has fallen? What might have happened to him, cast out
against his will into the horror of life? I forgive him
this coldness, this…dampness; relieved
of my daily grind I accept everything.
I pity.
I try to feel his
pulse, to stroke
his exhausted nape.

He brings me nothing, except slime,
sleep with its very own after-taste,
traces of bitter-tender efforts through which
he hopes to overcome futility
and the night.

In the morning I find by my head
a shed, grey feather. I draw a bath,
slowly, as when they lower, on thick ropes
into a grave, a last
posthumous rose. I open
a window.

The ravenangel regards me
from the wilderness of the day;

and at midday I sense in me
our mutual,
black children pushing forward

into relentless life.

The Old Women

The old women wearing grey suits, sweaty
former nursemaids, bearers
of snakes and medusas, foster-mothers of bald
teddy bears in their
empty wombs. The old women
without wombs. The old women
who have forgotten: they collect
only what is. Toadstools
and small change, rain-worms.

Grey-haired; not our mothers,
not us. High heels
on varicose legs; a face – the posthumous
mask of Marilyn.

That’s not us. We still
regularly gaze into the face
of the bloody moon in the toilet
bowl. Youth, you howl
like a dog; you depart

on a very strange road.

Translated from the Slovak by James Sutherland-Smith

These poems were presented at Smolenice Castle, Slovakia,

as part of a Literature Across Frontiers translation workshop, 7-14 July 2012.