Bukhara by Pia Tafdrup

Repeating after the woman, sentence by sentence,
a prayer I donít know and yet can recite
in a language Iíve never spoken
but whose music the trees have whispered for years
The words withdraw again like sand into the sea
like the stars that recede from the morning sky
Waterís what we drink and we each peel an orange
First cut a layer off the top
Ė my grip is so sure
have I killed anyone?
Then we make the knife swivel
in a circle under the white rind
trace four lines down to the bottom of the fruit
turn out the peeled skin into a flower
live and let live
Rinse my hands again
clean away every conceivable impurity
while she keeps trying to marry me off
to a life happier than this one.


Happiness isnít given out in measured portions
it must be stolen in the night
amid darkness fluttering wide open as light is exhaled
and the first star makes its mark
or in the glow of a sunrise
as gazelles go running up hillsides
and scorpions burrow further into the sand

I bite into flint, shout my way into silence
so the water ripples on the calm ponds
I gather you into a floating stone
stretch you out and listen inside
to sapphire and systolic joy

Who sought out whom and tore down the sky
with wedges of tenderness and rivers of fire
Mirror-calm spirit now, groundswell of the embrace
Ė death
will have to wait through a long life
I want you like this, as you are
and canít find a way out of my dream.

After Short Sleep

Wake on my back, hovering above the bed
a frost-white star singing in my temples
Ė support myself in pain, the birds still far away in the darkness

There is nothing to fear after short sleep
there is just what you must fend off to protect yourself
and what must be guarded at each moment, what mustnít slip out

To be pulled up from deep down and be carried
by what is constantly dislocating, to rest in a spiral
and know that the ear does not close against surrounding sounds

Not even swathed in sleep
when I lay it close against the earth
to catch the quietest murmur

To fall upward and find words, simple and self-evident,
to climb through yourself in memoryís echo chamber
enjoined that there is a first time for everything

To penetrate closed systems
and see that I donít know the center
I am circling now

Floating on cool lightning
the morningís first wedge of light
Ė only things that do not live cannot die.


In the stone hovers
the bird, in sleep
the dream, like signs
dizzily carved
on a cliff face
deep in chilly caves
where the air smells raw
and drops of water ring
like fever-dazzled song

In the stone hovers
the bird, the country
is an open grave
My blood races
in its tunnel
forward and up to the sky
white with bird-screech
Hear my own heart
beating alien beats

Donít possess even a fraction of myself.

Translated by Roger Greenwald

Issue Three

Editorial: The Swedish Army Knife

Gunnar Harding

Anselm Hollo

Marie Lundquist

Göran Printz-Påhlson

Göran Sonnevi

Jesper Svenbro

Pia Tafdrup

Søren Ulrik Thomsen

Tomas Tranströmer

Gungerd Wilkholm

Reviews of: Michael Anania

Reviews of: Wild Honey Press

And: The Word From Russia

Samizdat Magazine, samizdatmagazine.com © 2000-2001 R. Archambeau

Do not reprint without permission