Liana Sakelliou

Since Childhood & The Virgin’s Miracles
July 25, 2020 Sakelliou Liana

Since Childhood

 

Think of the body on the sand,
palms open, arms spread,
an arrow cleaving the air,
a brief surprise in the heavens
before it changes course
and falls to the earth
where it belongs,
in the process
making a bridge.

Think of the neck and chest extended,
the waist and pelvis straining,
the pull of every tissue,
the practiced body in an earthly arc
just to add another color,
the one that over the years
we forget.

The indelible one.

 

The Virgin’s Miracles

 

Sure, I can imagine Satan being cast out
from someone’s mouth,
the possessed breaking free
of chains around his neck and wrists.

But a cure for barrenness—no,
I can’t envision that. The loins know better.

As for Her third miracle, I’m still overwhelmed
by that man from Thessaly, back from the dead
and simply sailing away.

 

Παιδιόθεν (Since Childhood)

 

Σκεφτεῖτε τὸ σῶμα σὰν βέλος
ποὺ σχίζει τὸν ἀέρα,
στὴν ἀμμουδιὰ τὸ σῶμα
μὲ τὶς παλάμες καὶ τὰ χέρια ἀνοιχτά,
μιὰ σύντομη ἐπίκληση στὰ οὐράνια
γιὰ νὰ ἐπιστρέψει ἀνάστροφα
στὴ γῆ ὅπου ἀνήκει
φτιάχνοντας γέφυρα.

Σκεφτεῖτε τὸν αὐχένα
τὸν θώρακα προτεταμένο
τὶς διατάσεις τῆς ὀσφύος, τῆς λεκάνης,
τὴν ἕλξη τῶν ἱστῶν
τὸ ἀσκημένο σῶμα, τόξο ἐπίγειο
ν’ ἀθροίζει ἕνα ἄλλο χρῶμα
ποὺ λησμονοῦμε γιὰ χρόνια—
δυσεξίτηλο.

 

Τὰ θαύματά της (The Virgin’s Miracles)

 

Φαντάζομαι τὸν δαίμονα νὰ βγαίνει ἀπὸ τὸ στόμα
ἢ ἀπ’ τὶς ἁλυσίδες στὸ χέρι ἢ στὸν λαιμό του·

τὴ θεραπεία τῆς στείρας δὲν τὴ φαντάζομαι,
τὴν ξέρουν τὰ σπλάχνα·

ἀκόμα μὲ συνεπαίρνει τὸ τρίτο θαῦμα
τῆς νεκρανάστασης—ὁ Θεσσαλός, τὸ πλοῖο…

 
 

Translated by Don Schofield

Born in Nevada and raised in California, Don Schofield has been living in Greece since 1980.  Fluent in Greek, a citizen of both his homeland and his adopted country, he has published several poetry collections, the most recent of which are The Flow of Wonder (Kelsay Books, 2018) and In Lands Imagination Favors (Dos Madres Press, 2014), as well as an anthology of American poets in Greece (Kindled Terraces, Truman State University Press, 2004), and translations of several contemporary Greek poets.  He is a recipient of the 2005 Allen Ginsberg Award (US), the 2010 John D. Criticos Prize (UK) and a Stanley J. Seeger Writer-in-Residence fellowship at Princeton University.  His first book, Approximately Paradise (University Press of Florida, 2002) was a finalist for the Walt Whitman Award, and his translations have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the Greek National Translation Award.  Currently he lives in Thessaloniki.

Liana Sakelliou has published eighteen books of poetry and criticism, as well as translations of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson, H. D., Denise Levertov and Gary Snyder. Her own poems have been translated from Greek into several languages and have been published in a number of anthologies and international journals.  She teaches American literature, specializing in contemporary poetry and creative writing, in the Department of English Language and Literature of the University of Athens.  The recipient of grants from the Fulbright Foundation, the Department of Hellenic Studies of Princeton University, the University of Coimbra (Portugal) and the British Council, Ms. Sakelliou is a member of the Greek Writers’ Association and a short story judge in the European Union Prize for Literature.  Her latest book, Όπου φυσά γλυκά η αύρα (Wherever the Sweet Breeze Blows), was a finalist for this year’s Greek National Poetry Award.