Oriel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ordas

Grey Wolf

 

Sharp is the eye of the wild,

the free, the predator.

Like blue winter and torment,

clear and pitiless.

 

The wolf scours the fallow land.

Bark, you in the yard,

give a faint howl,

the shadow on the ice will hear you.

 

In the hoar frost he vanishes,

away from the brilliance of the ice.

Snapping Prince of Anguish,

guardian of our dreams.

 

He devours fresh snow,

reddened as he senses flesh.

He broods, licks his mouth,

growls, can’t hear himself.

 

Attila József 1932

translated from Hungarian by Maria Schiller and Hilary Kassman

 

 

Nebelland

Fog Land

 

In winter my beloved

is among the woodland creatures.

The vixen knows I have to return

before dawn and laughs.

How the clouds shudder. And

on my snow collar falls

a layer of brittle ice.

 

In winter my beloved

is a tree among trees and invites

the hapless crows

into her beautiful boughs. She knows

that at dawn the wind

lifts her stiff, rime coated

evening dress and chases me home.

 

In winter my beloved

is among the fish and dumb.

Enthralled by the waters, tremulous

from the stroking of her fins,

I stand on the shore and see,

until ice floes drive me away,

how she dives and turns.

 

And struck again by the hunting cry

of the bird that stiffens

its wings above me, I fall

in the open field: she plucks

the hens and throws me a white

collar bone. I put it round my neck

and go on through the bitter down.

 

Faithless is my beloved

I know, sometimes she hovers

on high heels into town,

in the bars she kisses the glasses

with a straw deep on their mouths

and words come to her for everyone.

But I am not versed in this language.

 

Fog land have I seen,

Fog heart have I eaten.

 

Ingeborg Bachmann

1926 – 1973

Translated from German by Dorothea Grüzweig and Hilary Kassman

 

 

Victory

 

Every time we walked round the corner near the war memorial, he came to the bottom of the path and talked to us. We usually stopped and, like the giggly schoolgirls we were, would snigger and cheekily talk back. Mainly, we were answering his questions. Who were we? Where did we live? What did we like? What did we do? It didn’t surprise us when one day he proffered us treats in return for a look at our rude bits. We were nine, and didn’t think our bits all that rude – safe in the knowledge it would be a long time before they were as rude as adult bits. Our bodies were for games like hopscotch, climbing trees, running and skipping. Anyway, this was a game we sometimes played with the boys at school. The idea made us snuffle and snigger all the more and we thought it was a good dare. Jacqueline and I had flat chests and no hair in our pants, but Chrissie had the buds of breasts, she wouldn’t confess to hair, so she went first.

He looked down her vest, then, after half a minute, put his wrinkly, old hands in for a quick fumble. She stared at his face while he looked at his hands as they groped and grabbed. We could tell she was trying not to giggle or look embarrassed. Blush? Us?

That was it. We had to go home for tea now. His old wife would be cooking for him in the cottage at the top of the path. We had another mile to walk to Jacqueline’s house where her mum would have our tea ready.

Impatiently, Jacqueline, Chrissie and I waited for the sweets to be given – a packet of ‘Victory V’s! For God’s sake! We never did that again. I occasionally wonder how things would have turned out, had the sweets had been to our satisfaction.

 

Fiona Campbell

 

 

Greetings from Miss Matty

 

Miss Matty sen yuh greetings

dis marning from a yard

she sen you ten green banana

to say thanks for the birthday card

 

Miss Matty sen yuh greetings

fi tell yuh how di do

she have much love and respect

when she write asking fi yuh

 

Please tell Miss Matty no bader

fi sen mi anyting

I glad she tell mi how di do

I grateful fi everyting

 

I sen Miss Matty di birthday card

and I remember she

because she ah one hundred

and I ah de Queen

 

Karen Campbell

 

Extract from: They said I killed the pony

 

One winter Saturday afternoon, after the pub, my father and his drinking companion were warming their cockles, feet up on the fireplace, snoozing, when the door was knocked. My father staggered down to open but there was no one there – just a full potato sack. Recognising it as a bomb he recklessly picked it up and tossed it over the shore wall, then fell down, hands over ears, waiting for the explosion. It came later when my mother arrived home to find a week’s supply of groceries a wasted mess being picked over by gulls.

‘Apart from me – who would want to go to the bother of bombing you?’ she asked him.

 

Alison Marr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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