Four Poems from Greece
For more, read Brian Sneeden’s translator’s note on Giannisi’s work.
– can one live with memories?
– one can
– can one live with memories without
wishing for a recurrence?
– I don’t know
(I don’t know how they do it those who grieve the loss of ones they truly loved
but nearly always they find a way
to bear it even when it seems impossible
or they couldn’t survive
without the other without him but life
plays other tricks time never repeats itself
the body knits to the soul resists
in order to forget
it remembers to continue to live)
if there wasn’t old age then she wouldn’t be afraid to lose you
losing the other isn’t quite as terrible
as utter annihilation and loneliness
is telling lies again
of course one can’t choose everything
bit by bit he figures out
the loss of union was there from the start
in union itself
loss of the other in coexistence
no one’s the same before and now
not because time passes and nothing remains
not because we’re always seeking something new
but because then you
and I you
for epilogue a plate of food wine and silence
we met inside a room
a wave shut the door
your eyes were blue
no – we met outside
there was a rustle of pines
it was noon
no – we met
night woke us
our one consolation was the sun
I’m locked inside the cave of the Cyclops
with his solitary eye guarding me
I stay awake.
– Cyclops open the door for me!
– Cyclops let me leave!
the Cyclops caresses the fuzz on my back.
lights a fire
rubs his hands
eats my meat my cheese my wine
still guarding me
with his solitary eye open.
Translations from the Greek
By Brian Sneeden
Editorial note: From Ομηρικά (Homerica), copyright © 2009 by Phoebe Giannisi, English translation copyright © 2017 by Brian Sneeden.