Our bridge-translator, Annie McDermott, explained that when someone reads her poems, Diacov has said she wants them “to know (or suspect) what made me spill water there, or to spill the water with me, or to spill the water in their own way… And for the water to surprise them, not to obey the laws of gravity, or even to be a cloud rather than water”. This estranging, disorientating quality of both sympathy and incomprehension was evident to us when we were working on the poem together. There was a terrible moment of revelation when one of the participants pointed out that “dance the fingers” might be the fingers attached to “the nails of the dead”, the definite article suddenly seemed all the more violent and unsettling.
Throughout the translation we tried to keep the tension between the implied subject of the sentences and the speaker. Trying not to reduce, definitively, the lines to either imperative instructions or the actions of an implied subject. Is that ‘our’ in the final line the intimate plural of a couple or the unity of all the speakers of a given language? Rather than decide we tried to maintain this unease, this unresolved quality.
Edward Doegar, Commissioning Editor