Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Yannis Ritsos

If you go up there I'll wait down here—she said to him—
in the olive shade, in the sheep shade, of our small field:
I'll raise your children—you needn't be worried—see to your work:
Only, now and then, send us down
some bitter almonds, some asters, some feathers,
or, if it's all you have, a bitter and astringent cypress cone.

Even bitterness would be welcome from your open hands—she wrote—
on the best side of the linen chest, I kiss your empty cigarette packet:
I keep a crumpled paper from your gift, my dear and yours truly,
and here I bundle all my hardships together and lighten them, my son.
Only if it's not much trouble, could you send me a package of sugar
so I can bake you the Easter bread that you like.

After they closed the door, they had no idea what to say. So many years
he was away with her waiting. "I'll fix you some tea,
and heat up something to eat," she said, thus the misery in her joy,
thus the awkwardness and the fear. She returned before long with a tray.
And within the steam of the cup sat a delicate bird with folded wings.
Their eyes didn't meet there. They returned and were watched.
He smiled and she began to cry.
Outside, the wind, the sea, the trees hissed angrily.

from Small Dedications (1960-1965) [Collected Poems Delta' -- pg 144-146]

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