Geneva in July
by Toeti Heraty
I surrender to the passing seasons
and life becomes like a book
(not a long one, certainly)
with numbered pages
to be turned one by one -
that girl in Geneva
hadn't suddenly crossed the road
running, without paying attention
carefully holding flowers in her hands?
I clearly remember
the old woman in a black headscarf
passing the table with a basket of roses
and you asking simply,
‘Do you like flowers?'
I replied after a long hesitation
and you cupped my chin and turned my face
fully towards you.
were defeated by a time
of windless days;
the roses would turn to dust
and the passionate Geneva nights
would leave us yawning.
There would be disturbance, nervousness, uncertainty
Who are you? Who am I?
You would probably have closed the window
on the train between Paris and Geneva
in case the wind ruffled my hair.
Or, when something untoward had happened,
you would have persuaded me to step off the train
to stay in a nameless town,
enjoy it together.
is to shed one's name, to become ungrounded,
a glistening object played with by the wind;
and what is more real - walking
with head bowed against the force of the wind,
or the dark lights of Amsterdam?
Flowers, night, towns and cities
slip in between things one wishes to remember
spread out, like words at dusk,
a deepening gulf between conflicting utterances.
with a sudden flapping of wings
five white swans
had not flown slowly towards the moon
leaving the lake filled with solitude.
We remain silent.
Yes, there has always been
more meaning in what's left unspoken.
The literal translation of this poem was made by Ulrich Kratz
The final translated version of the poem is by Carole Satyamurti
© Poetry Translation Centre 2004-2014