In Café Borges on Bankastræti
everyone has brown

Here they once sold pantyhose–
says Simone–that forked like paths
in two, even three.

Yes–says Tiziano–lovers fought here
until someone laid a
between them, naked.

Fires are burning.

In Café Borges on Bankastræti
everyone has stubble and a smile.
You have the widows and the widowers
who slurp soup spiced with Fáfnir’s-grass
and add in adages
with forks
that fork like pantyhose.
At a corner table a man in a turtleneck snores.

Up and down the hill the dead pass, patting the café wall.

I am married to the owner. We have four children.

© Sigurbjorg Þrastardottir. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2011 by T. Zachary Cotler. All rights reserved.

Á Café Borges í Bankastræti
eru allir með brún

Hér voru einu sinni seldar sokkabuxur–
segir Simone–sem klofnuðu eins
og stígar í tvennt, jafnvel þrennt.

Já–segir Tiziano–hér rifust elskendur
þar til einhver kom og lagði
í meðal þeirra bert.

Eldar brenna.

Á Café Borges í Bankastræti
eru allir með skeggbrodda og brosa.
Þangað koma ekkjur og ekklar
sötra súpu með fáfnisgrasi og
hræra út fleyg orð
með göfflum
sem klofna eins og sokkabuxur.
Við hornborð hrýtur maður í rúllukragabol.

Upp og niður brekkuna fer dáið fólk; klappar steininn.

Ég er gift eigandanum. Við eigum fjögur börn.

Sigurbjorg ÞrastardottirSigurbjorg Þrastardottir

Sigurbjorg Þrastardottir is a poet, playwright, and novelist in Reykjavik. Her debut collection of poetry, Blálogaland (Land of Blue Flames) was published in spring 1999, followed the year after by Hnattflug (Circumnavigation), which was voted best poetry book of the season by staff-members of Icelandic bookstores, and then in 2007 by Blysfarir (Torch Marches), which was nominated for the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize. Her first novel, Sólar saga (The Story of Sun), received the Tomas Gudmundsson Literary Prize 2002. The prize is granted every other year by the Mayor of Reykjavik. Þrastardottir’s poetry has been translated into several languages and published in Germany, Sweden, and Italy. A bilingual collection of her poems in Icelandic and English (translated by Bernard Scudder), To bleed straight, was published by Forlagið in 2008. Her newest book of poems, Brúður (Bride/Dolls), was published in 2010.

Translated from IcelandicIcelandic by T. Zachary CotlerT. Zachary Cotler

T. Zachary Cotler is the author of House with a Dark Sky Roof (Salt, 2011). His poems have appeared in Poetry, the Paris Review, Republic of Letters, the Wolf, and other magazines in the US and UK. In 2006, he was awarded the Amy Clampitt Fellowship by the poet’s estate. In 2011, he received the Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. He is a founding editor of the Winter Anthology.