Colombia

Translated from Slovenian by Phillis Levin and Tomaz Salamun

 

 

Cats have set themselves on wings.
Buttons have buttercups. Hares are
soft flesh, hares are soft flesh, they
shudder and hustle. They rise the sun,
actually they hold it on little sticks fixed
in the ground. Water strengthens sticks
in silt. A pool vibrates differently from
clay. It pours itself and doesn’t flow
back rhythmically. The sea is a warranty
and the curious are full of adrenalin. And
now, how are you? Is there in a membrane
in a volcano on which the tongue slides,
too? The one that calls the cells of
memory, waves the body and shrieks
when the sun wets, wets, broiling in Iška?

 

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black and white photograph of the poet, Tomaz Salamun
Photo Credits by Matej Druznik

Tomaž Šalamun (1941-2014) was a Slovenian poet who was prominent throughout Europe. Šalamun is the author of over 50 collections of poetry in Slovenian and English, including The Selected Poems of Tomaž Šalamun (1998); Feast (2000). His most recent books, published in English posthumously, are Andes (2016) and Druids (2019), and Opera Buffa (2022). 

Phillis Levin is a poet, essayist, and editor. Her latest book, Mr. Memory & Other Poems (2016), was selected by Library Journal as one of the Top Picks in poetry for spring 2016 and was a finalist for The Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry. She is the author of four other poetry collections. Her work has appeared in AGNI, The Atlantic, Kenyon Review, The New Yorker, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The New Republic, Paris Review, Ploughshares, Plume, PN Review, Poetry magazine, The Best American Poetry, and many other magazines and anthologies. She is a professor of English and the poet-in-residence at Hofstra University.   

“Colombia” was published in the TLR: Winter 2008, Vol. 51.