By skiour / Posted on 11 October 2010


Poems fail
when loves fail
Don’t listen to what they say:
a poem needs love’s heat
to survive
cold time…

I’ve invented a place
to go when I am deeply sad,
sad to the unmelting ice inside me,
sad to the crystallized tears,
when the regrets start, small white panther cubs
that nip and their bites sting.
Lipiu is what I call the place I’ve invented
to go when I am deeply sad,
a state increasingly more intense
since all the dressed up landscapes of the end
begin to smell of stagnant water
and rotten fruit.

You arrive in Lipiu without a sigh
only a slight tightening
like love standing
indecisive at the door.
Here you find cloud-stepping poets,
poets with an aptitude for heaven
who, towering high, nod and say,
“No, must be a mistake”
or “What a shame, too late now!”
while a beggar in the corner keeps murmuring:
“The good thing about desire
is that when it disappears
the value of the desired object disappears too.”

Here all of youth’s failures
have become silent public squares
crippled passions, dark groves
and the last pathetic love affairs,
unfed dogs who wander the back streets.
Something worse than old age,
this place is inhabited by wasted youth.

In Lipiu I cry all the time
ever since you showed me the value of sadness.
No, it’s not the absence of fertility
but the positive image of absence…
You spoke and your profile startled me
as if carved in the hardest stone
and your eyes made of sulphur
in shock, shocked me.
So lets cry and call it joy
joy because we are still here suffering.
At daybreak we will enter another harbor
like entering a new poem
and in the early morning mist I’ll hold
the last line of an untold love story.
Your voice, the curve of your neck, the height of your body,
the eternal repetition of an insatiable fear.
Looking at you I discovered
the hinterland of feeling.

The handsomest man in Lipiu
found a dead black butterfly in his sheets.
He was naked, sweating a little, and gleamed
but not so brightly as the butterfly, with all the unfathomable light
that came from death.
The butterfly, winged symbol of superficiality,
motionless, wearing the colors of night
was laid out on the bed as if death
had enjoyed her and then immediately abandoned her.
Or as if she were resting before setting off
on her difficult journey from blackness to perfection.

I’m the youngest woman in Lipiu.
I look and look and can’t believe
that so much dust has piled up
on the road to joy.
I tell myself there must be some mistake
that I never managed to go the silk route
or touch the poem’s hero on the chest.
I only imagined his heart standing there
like the banks we walk by and say:
“Imagine the things locked up inside, imagine the riches!”

What you lose stays with you forever
and Lipiu is a place I created
so I can be with all the things I’ve lost
when those unbearable nightfalls take over
those voiceless daybreaks
and you’re waiting for the school bell
to ring, and lessons to start again
one more assignment on an unknown topic.
You look down at the courtyard, the gravel,
and brush a few crumbs from your uniform
you enter the classroom;
enter the monotony of chalky time,
the vagueness of existence
which I know one finds again,
slightly altered, toward the end.

Religion in Lipiu
is a Headless Meaning.
Her statue stands obediently
next to those of her sisters:
Virtue, the most beautiful, and Wisdom
the one with perfect proportions.
Meaning, however, is worshipped headless
and when the one I would love if only. . .
kneels before her, wearing a pink shirt,
he is visibly aroused
because everything means something to him,
as well as its opposite.
Here love and death became one
and the grass that grows
between the statues’ scattered limbs
gives them the appearance of living souls
who grieve amidst the green and wreck their ships
on foreign eyes and suffer love.
In Lipiu love-death is worshipped as one
without a head because it is without hope.

By Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke


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