Mieczysław Jastrun

Jasmine Bush

Translated from the Polish by Dzvinia Orlowsky and Jeff Friedman

 

As the moon shadows
the jasmine bush
and the star-shaped
blossoms curl,

he utters a cry
of surprise and delight,
but damns the nocturnal
insects swarming the jasmine,
stinging and biting.

He smells the dark
avenues that run through
the garden, the dazzling
pale white flowers
fading in and out.

And yet the moment
fills with fear
as frightened shadows
drop, and green planes
dive into the flames
and burn up.

And in my own time
I hear the voice of truth on the tape
speaking for those gone now,
the slow elegies building
anger inside me.

And the smell of the jasmine flowers
leads me deeper into the dark garden.

 

 

 

Dzvinia Orlowsky is a poet and translator.  She is the author of five collections of poetry published by Carnegie Mellon University Press including A Handful of Bees, reprinted in 2009 as a Carnegie Mellon Classic Contemporary; Convertible Night, Flurry of Stones, recipient of a 2010 Sheila Motton Book Award; and her most recent, Silvertone, for which she was named Ohio Poetry Day Association’s 2014 Co-Poet of the Year. Her translation from Ukrainian of Alexander Dovzhenko’s novella, The Enchanted Desna, was published by House Between Water in 2006; and Jeff Friedman’s and her translation of Memorials  by Polish Poet Mieczysław Jastrun was published by Dialogos in 2014. She is a Founding Editor of Four Way Books, a recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Massachusetts Cultural Council poetry grant, and recipient with Jeff Friedman of a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts Translation Grant. She teaches poetry at the Solstice Low-Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing of Pine Manor College and at Providence College. Her newest poetry collection, Bad Harvest, is forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon University Press in 2018.

 

Jeff Friedman’s seventh book Floating Tales—a collection of prose poems—was published by Plume Editions/MadHat Press in fall 2017. His poems, mini stories and translations have appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry, New England Review, The Antioch Review, Poetry International, Plume, Hotel Amerika, Flash Fiction Funny, Agni Online, Solstice Literary Magazine, The New Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish Poets, New Flash Fiction Review, The New Republic and numerous other literary magazinesDzvinia Orlowsky’s and his translation of Memorials by Polish Poet Mieczslaw Jastrun was published by Lavender Ink/Dialogos in August 2014. Nati Zohar and Friedman’s book of translations Two Gardens: Modern Hebrew Poems of the Bible, was published by Singing Bone Press in 2016. Friedman has received numerous awards and prizes including a National Endowment Literature Translation Fellowship in 2016 with Dzvinia Orlowsky and two individual Artist Grants from New Hampshire Arts Council.

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