Saturday, March 17, 2012

Illness and Time -- Counting on

One of life's special opportunities came to me ten years ago in Bucharest when I had the opportunity to meet poet Ileana Mălăncioiu and, along with my co-translator Doru Radu, enjoy a afternoon beer with her in a sunny cafe and talk of the opportunity of translating her collection Sora mea de dincolo / My Sister Beyond.  These fifty-four poems were written in response to the illness and eventual death of Mălăncioiu's sister;  the bilingual collection with our translations came out in 2003 (Paralela 45).  During the past year I have faced the critical illness of a family member and have, during this time, found Mălăncioiu's poems especially relevant.
     With university studies in philosophy (PhD) and experiences as journalist and editor, Mălăncioiu is a thoughtful observer who offers new best ways of seeing what is at hand.  Here is her "Forty Days."

     Forty Days     by Ileana Mălăncioiu

     During forty days I learned
     what I wasn't able in forty years
     when I didn't need
     any more learning.

     I needed only to walk
     to the end and let the after life
     take me
     from the edge of an abyss.

     I walked from morning to night
     thinking you unable to walk
     but would learn
     in those forty days

     what others learned 
     in forty million years
     so they didn't need
     to learn anymore.

The original Romanian text of this and other poems in Sora mea de dincolo / My Sister Beyond  is available here.

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