Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Widening

Yannis Ritsos

We were to remain over here—who knew how long. Little by little
we forgot about time, lost track of the difference between months, weeks,
days, hours. Perhaps it was for the best. There were oleanders
far below, cypress trees above, and stones above that.
Flocks of birds passed overhead; their shadows made the ground dark.
In my day, the old man said, it happened just like this. The iron bars
were already in the windows; I could see them long before they were installed. Now,
seeing them every day, I begin to think they’re not there. I no longer see them.
I wonder if you see them?—Then, the guards called out and opened the door.
They brought in two wheel-barrows loaded with watermelons. The old man continued:
Ah, as long as eyesight remains, you can’t see a thing.
You peer into the void, as they say—whitewash, sun, wind, salt—
you enter the house—without stool or bed—you sit down on the ground;
small spiders walk across your hair, across your clothes, into your mouth.

June 5, 1968
Partheni concentration camp

from Stones [Collected Poems:I ]

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