Two of my Bulgarian poems from “Апокрифни животни” recently appeared in English translation in issue # 17 of Absinthe: New European Writing. Thanks to Maria P. Vassileva for helping with the translations.
Milking her, I had to watch out for her dung.
On occasion, lost in some metaphor, I wouldn’t notice
how her anus opened like an eye and beads
of obsidian rolled out from inside: large black tears
in the warm milk. Bitter sugar. At first I was mad
and wanted to punch her in the flank, give her the boot,
because pain is the deepest memory, the most
beastly. Like that time two blokes beat me up in England
and I was bleeding all over and every blow was like a stamp
in the soft wax of my face – a way to remember, to remember,
because there’s so little left otherwise, so little,
and how, while they were beating me, I thought how good
it’d be if I bled more often, if they rolled my face in shit,
so I wouldn’t forget the taste, the stench of life.
Either way, I never punched the goat. Either way
this world overflows with suffering like a clogged toilet
and the air stinks, but no one is paying attention –
one gets used to suffering, when it is daily
like a croissant with a glass of milk. We gulp it down eventually.
And the goat? Would you believe me how,
when I slit her kid’s throat, she didn’t eat for a week
and looked up long at the sky with her feline pupils,
as if that vacant azure could deliver her
from her loss? Then everything went back to its place:
she got the idea that I, who had slaughtered her kid,
was her kid. The imagination of pain is infinite.
A Sweater for the Dog
For thousands of years they have followed us
from cave to cave, from house to house,
and watched us pile on furs
skinned from their cousins – the wolves,
or wool from sheep, which they herd,
or expensive silks and satin.
They watch their epilated masters
buy stylish scarves from the stores,
and then bring out whips and curses
to make them pull sleds to the North Pole.
They never complained
even when left out in the cold.
Praise be then to the old ladies on my block
who knit sweaters for their poodles,
lonely women without grandchildren,
or maybe with lots of leftover wool -
the world cannot be that cruel
if there’s still love to be wrapped up in.
Bundled like coils
those pets warm every root and tree
and the wintry wind no longer bites,
and the hand that caresses them