Κaterina Iliopoulou is a poet and translator who lives and works in Athens, Greece. She is the author of five published books of poetry (most recent titled Every place only once, and completely, 2015), a book of short stories and a book of essays on poetics. Her published translations include the work of Sylvia Plath and Walt Whitman. Her poetry has been translated and published in literary reviews, journals and anthologies in the US, France, Spain and the UK and she has participated in a number of international poetry festivals. Her first book Mister T. has been published in Canada, Turkey and Italy while her third book The book of the soil, is due to be published in France. She is co-editor of greekpoetrynow.com and chief-editor of FRMK, a biannual journal on poetry, poetics and visual arts.
Here the days do not dissolve in the air
They drop into the water
Forming their very own layer
A surface of separation.
A hawk flies above the body of the summer
It dives again and again
Feeding and getting drunk from falling.
There is nothing here
Only crazy wind and stones
A random promise
Sharpens our lust with the blade of the moon.
When I arrived for the first time in this landscape of endings
The wind entered my mouth with such fury
As if I were its sole receptacle
Until all my words disappeared.
Every tree receives the wind differently
Some suffer others resist
(I met a palm tree that gave birth to the wind and distributed it
in every direction)
Others shake all over and change colors.
I of course am not a tree
I sat down and wore the wind as a coat
I bent my head and looked at the ground
From its crevices, the roots of thyme
With their hieroglyphics struggled to enter the light
Then the words came back.
© Translation by John O’Kane
* Cape-Tainaron is the southern most tip of continental Greece. Ancient Greeks believed it to be the end of the world
IN HEAVEN EVERYTHING IS FINE
A small room
A window looking at the sea
The bare landscape, the geological unfoldings
Each day countless times you sketch them with your eyes
The body follows them
And a small window opposite the bed
Black hills at night
We came here to be alone
But we aren’t
We aren’t alone
There are rooms hewn out of the rock
There’s a city.
When we lie there for hours,
In the stone cradles
We fit our body to their body
Inside the dens of salt
We let their hands burn our palms
We wear the heavy mantle of their breathing in the heat
It’s summer you think that
There will never be clouds again or green grass,
Little flowers of the rocks.
We are trapped in a children’s drawing
Yellow and blue
Thickly painted everywhere
And we two dots
In a prehistoric room
On these rocks we burn with them
One on top of the other
One for the other
One inside the other
One against the other
The small stone temple in the center
An eye completely exposed
From there you can truly weep
Looking up at the sky
You are so alone when you sleep
You are never alone when you sleep
Never beyond the reach of my hand
Your body lies
which we draw from each other’s mouth
Erecting a penetrable construction.
Thus when we’re together
We find ourselves at once inside and outside the world
Words are survival
In the midst of multiplicity
As if the future existed
Simulation of Paradise
Even the greatest euphoria
Leaves us naked
“No more sky and stars
Please, let’s put on the light so I can read”
© translation by John O’Kane
Published with the permission of Κaterina Iliopoulou