Two Poems

Bird Tracks
Photo: Stefan Schweihofer

I Scatter Bread Crumbs to the Sparrows

From my palms spills the joy of sparrows.
I call them to the crumbs, Come quickly! and Who will be first?
Their frozen bills warm,
their small feet etch messages into the earth,
but the snow falls, wipes the letters away.
The birds are patient –
they draw the lines once again,
teaching me a new alphabet.
One bird corrects a mistake with a claw
and the book of poems is full.

As the sparrows peck at the crumbs
from inside the house drift news-sounds –
I overhear – Ahmadinejad . . . Timashenko . . .
The US minister of defense . . .
What is the impact of a nuclear weapon?
The sparrows continue pecking at the bread
Yuliya seems to be just as interesting as Yanukovich,
In Gates’s ideas, there is no fear of hunger.
The smell of bread is far better than the perfume of a woman.
Silence, everyone, please –
the sparrows are pecking at the bread.

The bread is pecked by the sparrows –
the snowman’s half-lidded coal eyes water a little,
its broomstraw hands tremble,
and the icy frame begins to melt.

Pecked by the birds, the carrot nose crumbles;
the birds assail, topple the dread dummy.


New Boots

The world begins from new boots.
That’s what Aysel knows.
Everyday she polishes them, top to bottom.
She walks them everywhere.
Her father bought them for her –
and although they pinch,
she will squeeze her feet into them all year long.
In winter they will touch the snow and rain –
they will become a little bit older.
In the summer she will walk them around the house,
though her mother will scold her many times.
One day the size of her feet will change;
still, a little time must pass before she understands this.

Audio icon Read a bilingual version of Rabiqe’s poem “To a Phoenix,” hear her recite the original, and read the folktale that inspired it.

Rabiqe Nazim qizi was born in 1979 in Baku. She has worked for several newspapers as a reporter and translator. She has published two books of poetry (Up to You and Episodes of Love) and was awarded the Nasimi Prize for Literature and the “Umid Ishighi” (Hope’s Light) Prize in International Literature from the Rasul Rza Foundation.