Kim and Martha Silano
As part of our ongoing
series, two poets exchange work and create interpretations of each other's
Kim to Silano
S.O.S. Szymborska, by Arlene Kim
of life, endure my plucking threads out of your train.
—from Wislawa Szymborska’s “Under
This Little Star,” translated by Sharon Olds
like this I replay the Szymborska. In a quintet.
stringing— Dear Mothers—
Fathers. I stooge & ditto. I pin my ears back.
Repeat. Listen I’m calling.
flash you with my dits & dahs— my incorrect orders—
my misshapen cheeks
bit of salt. The steam of answers. I have you so rarely these late days.
am selfish with your words. I hoard them from rest. Pick at them like this.
preserving— peeling— pickling—
jam-jar what I can. Who cares. Who cares if I prick
my fingers on the spindly t’s
atop the points of your leggy star so sky it hurts.
over the edge. My hawk brings gophers of apology. For flying.
the hunt— how it baits— how it borrows—
from the copse of your verse. I pinch
existence like a claw. Like his scythe beak.
me. Oh please. Ladle me.
your horn-rimmed nest— Again— Again—
Bear with me, Wislawa
Szymborska, a translation by Martha Silano
with me, O mystery of being, for pulling threads from your veil
“Under a Certain Little Star,” translated by Joanna Trzeciak
Szymborska: I sing you, I
play you. Wear you like a babushka.
being Polish, are my mother’s kapusta. You,
lived through war, are
my father’s sailor suit, leaky gas mask.
I clear my throat, crane my cranium, call
respond, attempt to be a tenth as ticked, as resigned,
as resilient. Always I am listening,
but my letters
like litter, like lopped off lamps, less illuming
than alarming. My verbs do not steam,
do not stream,
are mostly bereft of answers.
Sometimes I strain for sapphire,
sift only through salt, single grains
still I horde your words,
pet them as I would a favorite cat.
them like a bushel of beans,
my jars, my recipe for Uncle Willy’s
Hoppin’ John. Ladle the
rubble you scrape,
the splintered, the scum and ashes,
midnight munching. For company.
you see it in the wheat field—that kestrel
in a stoop? That’s me—feeding.
my talons into small birds, dragonflies, bloody rags.
me for wanting to steal
your pricked finger, your labor.
me, again. Again.
Arlene Kim grew
up on the east coast of the U.S. before drifting westward. Her first
collection of poems What have you
done to our ears to make us hear echoes? (Milkweed
Editions) won the 2012 American Book Award. She lives in Seattle where she
reads for the poetry journal DMQ Review and
writes poems, prose, and bits between.
Archived at http://lit.konundrum.com/poetry/kimsilano_trans.php