Nausis

translated by 

 

The sea and opposing shoreline as seen through a rugged window
Photo by Eleni Kefala

for G. D.

 

It was much easier to tell why it was called the golden grotto than to get into it. . . . It appears to have been used as a cemetery, for rows of tombs have been found here and marble statuettes. We turned over the thin sandy soil . . . and found quantities of ancient broken bits of pottery.

 

They arrive here from everywhere
in the middle of the night
carrying their earthenware vessels.
They cross our sleep above the wave
like a coming-of-age celebration.
glaukos and telegandros
eudamos, timaritos, polykarmos
and pythagoras. Navigation names
on side walls
rocks and roofs written in columns
wooden statues. eunomos, kallimachos, aischylos,
amphisthenes, lysikrates, nikagoras.
They arrive here from everywhere
in the middle of the night
marble figurines
carrying their hope in backpacks. Their boats
sink from age
on rocks and caves
lonely youths
children, anonymous and short-sailing.
When we rise
in the morning
they are waiting for us patiently on the beach
with folded arms
earthenware dolls – alan, sena, muhammad,
sahara, jihan, sherin. Around them
fragments of ancient vessels.

In the depths of the golden cave
on the rock
a lonely name appears
in liquid red
clay –
nausis.

Translation from the Greek
By Adam Goldwyn

Eleni Kefala has published two books of poetry, Memory and Variations (2007), which was shortlisted for the Diavazo Literary Prize in Greece (first-time author), and Time Stitches (2013), which received the State Prize for Poetry in Cyprus. Her work has been translated into English, Italian, French, Turkish, and Bulgarian.

Adam J. Goldwyn is an associate professor of English at North Dakota State University and author of Byzantine Ecocriticism: Women, Nature, and Power in the Medieval Greek Romance (2018). Read his interview with Zisis Ainalis from the Summer 2020 issue.

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