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from the November 2007 issue

Almost Parnassus

Now comes the labor of descent. Walking down the wooden stairs
of the house, it comes to you, you are descending the slopes of Parnassus—
the chips in the white plaster, like feathered clouds, give onto the paths below—
trapped in the snorting air-conditioner above you, Aeolus screams—
and under the planks, broken like earth, belching autumn,
hide the wild boars, watching, lying in wait for you,
tracking your uncertain steps as they fall and scatter like rabbits
in the dark network of alleys—an enticing smell from the kitchen
has drawn away your prized greyhounds—kneecaps like crab apples
yearning, crying out to be bitten: you tremble,
hold back, pretend you can no more, sprawled over the banister
(haphazard line of trees: hornbeam, maple, ash)—And the wound?
the steps you have left behind you plunge and plunge and still can't fill the hollow of
the question:
clouds—a memory, your shirt no longer billowed
and lifted by the lusty winds, yet the floor's round valley
lies far off (from the dew's vantage point it looks like the horizon),
suddenly you twist back to those hollows,
the cave openings where the black boars might be lurking
Have night tears washed away the eye-leaves?

And collapse onto the eternal ice of the concrete,
encircled by pains that tear into the apples of your knees,
the pencil thrust into the carpet as if in the boar's rough coat,
in the biting moment, so dearly wished-for—
now you feel how the warm breezes of the house,
returning through the open doors from their campaigns of solitude,
come and bandage your wound as if pausing over the gashes of a burst fruit,
while on your back, the rooftop and the mountain peak
join for an instant their shadows—a new ground of exhaustion.

Translation of "Pothuajse Parnas." Copyright Gentian Çoçoli. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2007 by Erica Weitzman. All rights reserved.

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