The poetry of Traian T. Coșovei in translation.

The gleam of the knife

All my life I’ve been signaling my man in the mirror.

All my life I’ve been lighting his cheap cigarettes

at the flame of family photos.

With a sponge drenched in vinegar, for years

I’ve been wiping away his tears, his eyes, his address.

Now the mirror has darkened like the silver

of our old tea service. 

In the noon light, his face seems a giant fisheye,

a deep sea creature hurled tossed onto the shore.

In its waters, the mirror now drowns 

the last twitches of his farewell gestures. 

Goodbye, tin-man, goodbye, tableware of tears.

All my life I’ve been signaling you, for years and years

I wiped you with a soft dust rag.

His farewell gestures remain stabbed deep in the mirror.

My gestures have remained in the rain’s manuscripts.

And then, 

in the gleam of which knife should I now read this life?

La lumina cuțitului 

O viață întreagă i-am făcut semne omului meu din oglindă.

O viață întreagă i-am aprins țigări ieftine

de la flacăra fotografiilor de familie.

Cu un burete îmbibat în oțet, ani de zile

i-am tot șters lacrimile, ochii, adresa.

Acum oglinda s-a întunecat ca argintul

de pe vechiul nostru serviciu de ceai.

În lumina amiezei, chipul lui pare un imens ochi de pește,

o ființă a adîncurilor aruncată la țărm.

În apele ei, acum oglinda îneacă

ultimele tresăriri ale semnelor lui adio.

La revedere, omule de cositor, la revedere, tacîmuri de lacrimi.

Toată viața v-am făcut semne, ani de zile

v-am șters cu o cîrpă moale de praf.

Semnele lui de adio au rămas înfipte adînc în oglindă.

Semnele mele au rămas în manuscrisele ploii.

Și atunci,

la lumina cărui cuțit să mai citești viața aceasta?

The Poet

Traian T. Coșovei (1954 – 2014) was a Romanian poet of the ‘80s Generation. He was a founding member of the ‘Cenaclul de Luni’ literary circle, a group that would eventually set the tone for much of postmodern Romanian poetry. He was the recipient of a series of prizes, including the Prize of the Romanian Academy and the International Nichita Stănescu Prize. Coșovei published over twenty books of poetry, literary criticism, and prose.

The Translators

Adam J. Sorkin has published 60 books of Romanian poetry in English translation and won the Poetry Society (UK), Kenneth Rexroth, Ioan Flora, and Poesis Translation Prizes, among others. Most recently Sorkin published The Barbarians’ Return by Mircea Dinescu (translated with Lidia Vianu, Bloodaxe). His versions of Emilian Galaicu-Păun won 2nd prize in the 2018 John Dryden Translation Competition.

Andreea Iulia Scridon is a Romanian-American poet and translator. She studied Comparative Literature at King’s College London and is currently studying Creative Writing at the University of Oxford. She is editor at Asymptote Journal, E Ratio Poetry Journal, and The Oxford Review of Books.

About the contributor

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