Adrian Grima- Malta

Photo credits to Virginia Monteforte

International Poetry Festival
Poetry and Wine

September 15-17, 2015, in Rahovec, Kosovo

Adrian Grima (Malta,1968) is a prizewinning Maltese-language author of collections of poetry and short stories for adults and adolescents in Maltese which have been translated into many languages. He has read his poetry at festivals in the Mediterranean and Europe, and in Australia, Bali, Makassar (Indonesia), and Nicaragua. Collections of his poetry in translation have appeared in English, German, Italian and French: The Tragedy of the Elephant (2005), Deciphered Lips (Northern Ireland, 2013), Adrian Grima (Berlin, 2010), La coda della freccia (Italy, 2011), and Ici arrivent les mouettes (2012). Adrian Grima teaches literature in the Department of Maltese at the University of Malta. He has written and edited a number of academic works, and read and published papers in many countries, focusing mainly on literature in the Mediterranean. His new book of poetry, Klin u Kapriċċi Oħra (Rosemary and other indulgences) will be launched on 30 September 2015. www.adriangrima.com.

Photo credit: Jože Suhadolnik

Readings on Youtube:
· Sète (France) 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SAhI_c5LX0
· Ptuj (Slovenia) 2010: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUxisKBrJBU – Starting at 2:48

Three poems by Adrian Grima in Maltese and English published in

Adrian Grima, Xufftejk Spjegati/Deciphered Lips (Verbal Arts Centre, Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland, 2013)

1. Xufftejk Spjegati – Deciphered Lips
2. Kullimkien ir-Ritratti Tagħha – Her Photograph Everywhere
3. Il-Ġimgħa Tibda bil-Fdalijiet – A Week Starting With What Remains

1.
Xufftejk Spjegati

Xufftejk spjegati fid-dlam
u d-dawl misruq bejn il-purtieri u t-twieqi
isaħħnuli qalbi.
Infittex is-sema mistrieħ
mal-kpiepel t’għajnejk magħluqin
u nibża’ ngħaddi minn quddiemhom b’xufftejja
li ma jmurx tismagħni.
Naf li kultant tħossni xorta waħda,
minkejja s-skiet kemm kemm mitluq
fis-sħana ta’ kuxxtejk,
minkejja l-ħolma li tant kienet fil-qiegħ
li ma tafx minn fejn ġiet u x’ħalliet.

L-għada filgħodu ma taf b’xejn –
jew forsi ma tgħidlix –
u jien ma nistaqsix,
għax il-lejl u l-jum jistennew ’il xulxin
bħal maħbubin sigrieti
u jmissu ftit,
u mbagħad jerġgħu jfittxu dak is-sema,
dawk is-swaba’, dik l-id.
Għalhekk ma tafx li dal-lejl kont qed nistrieħ
fis-sema maqbud qisu nifs blu
fil-kpiepel t’għajnejk
u li ħin minnhom smajt qalbi tħabbat fil-qrib
għalik,
qisha sigriet mifxul, qisha tabù.
Deciphered Lips

Your lips deciphered in the dark
and light stolen from the window’s curtains
speak to my heart.
I look for the sky resting
on the lids of your eyes
and fear to be passing close
should I wake you with my lips.
Sometimes, I know you feel me anyway
despite the last silence left
in the heat of your thighs.
Despite the dream’s depth – so deep
you don’t know from where it came,
or what it left.

Next morning you know nothing –
or, maybe, say nothing –
and I don’t enquire –
since night and day await
each other like secret lovers
touching briefly,
searching again for that sky,
those fingers, that hand.
That’s why you don’t remember
I was resting, last night,
under a sky caught like a blue breath
over the lids of your eyes.
Or that all at once you heard my heart
beat for you,
like a confused secret, like a taboo.

2.
Kullimkien ir-Ritratti Tagħha

I
Mhix tippoża fir-ritratt ta’ fuq l-irħama
fejn norqod jien
it-tifla ta’ sitt snin li nbarmet.
Mhix titbissem.
Qed tħares fil-ġenb,
lilhinn minna li qed nosservawha wara ħafna snin,
xagħarha lewn id-deheb imqanfed
maqbud f’rakkont bla spjegazzjonijiet.
Ir-ritratt jaqbad ħarsitha serja,
bl-aħmar u l-aħdar u l-isfar tal-malja
jgħumu f’xulxin.
U waqt li zijitha taqra ktieb fis-sajf ta’ warajha,
hi tidher mifxula,
donnha lemħet taqliba
li ma tafx kif se tispiċċa.

II
Nixtieqha tgħaddi minn ħdejja,
nismagħha ssejjaħ ’il xi ħadd,
imqar mill-kamra l-oħra.
Inkella tidħol għajjiena bil-basket tal-kotba
u b’leħenha jiġri ma’ kullimkien
tagħti rendikont qalil tal-iskola.
Imbagħad titbissem u tirrakkonta l-istilla
tiddi kburija fuq xogħolha…

III
F’kull kurutur, f’kull kamra mdawla:
bl-iskufja kollha lwien bħal tat-Tibetani
mdawra lejna;
ta’ ftit xhur f’ħoġor ommha ħdejn il-baħar,
ħuha bil-malja u hi liebsa l-abjad u b’kappell
qisha tal-“Little House on the Prairie;”
u bl-istess libsa – forsi bl-istess magna tar-ritratti –
f’idejn missierha jitbissmilha u hi tħares lejna;
imbagħad ġa telqet timxi,
f’mużew ma’ ħuha u ommha mkebbin sewwa;
u ieħor f’dirgħajn missierha jikkummiedja,
hi trid tmissu u tidħaq, hu jinġibed lura –
seta’ ma kienx hemm ritratt għaliha –
kellha kollox f’idha.

IV
Mix-xbieha tagħha kbira
quddiem il-mejda tal-ikel
tħares lejja b’għajnejha kbar
qishom foresta taħt il-baħar,
sigriet kbir bejnietna;
bl-ilwien imqarbin ta’ lbiesha;
bix-xemx imħabbla f’xagħarha;
biz-zkuk tal-ħaxix aħdar nar marsusin f’idejha;
bil-ħmura skunċertanti ta’ xufftejha.

Imbagħad jiġu għalija,
niġbed il-bagalja u nitlaq.
Imma mhemmx intervall bejnietna,
mhemmx distanza,
u nibqa’ nfittex ix-xemx
fir-rakkont t’għajnejha.

Her Photograph Everywhere

I
She’s not posing on the marble shelf
where I sleep
the four-year-old girl who perished.
Not smiling.
Looking sideways,
beyond us, future observers.
Hair the colour of tousled gold
caught in a tale without explanation.
The photo catches her serious look,
the red, green and yellow of her bathing costume
swimming into each other.
While her aunt reads a summer book behind her,
she looks apprehensive,
as if she’s glimpsed a storm ahead.

II
I wish I could see her pass,
or hear her call,
from the other room.
Come in tired, with her school bag
and her voice rushing
to give an earnest account of the day.
Then smile and tell of the star
shining proudly on her work …

III
She’s everywhere, in every corridor,
in every room lit up.
Her face, in a baby’s wool cap of Tibetan colours,
looking at us;
a few months old in her mother’s lap
by the sea,
her brother in his bathing costume and she
wearing white and a bonnet
as if in Little House on the Prairie.
The same dress –
perhaps with the same camera –
in her father’s hands. He smiles at her and she looks at us.
And now she’s walking,
wrapped up warm, in a museum with her brother and mother.
In her father’s arms, while he plays the fool:
she reaches to touch him and laughs, he draws back
(no photograph needed here):
a moment captured, completely, in her hands.

IV
In the dining room, there’s a painting of her older.
Seated at the table
you’re seized
by her bright eyes, a fresh forest submerged,
a glance, a secret acknowledged;
the assertive colour of her clothes;
the sunlight caught in her ruffled hair;
the stems of incandescent green she clutches;
the disconcerting redness of her lips.

Then they come for me,
I pull my bag behind me and leave.
But there’s no interval between us,
no distance,
and I keep looking for that sun
in the story of her eyes.

3.
Il-Ġimgħa Tibda bil-Fdalijiet

1.
Int u miexi tħoss il-fdal tal-ħġieġ fuq is-swar
jitkagħweġ bejn il-pett taż-żarbun u l-madum,
iqarmeċ ġox-xewka ta’ dahrek,
frisk bħal logħba noli fil-beraħ.

II.
Bil-lejl bdew igaraw il-fliexken tal-birra,
ta’ nhar ta’ Sibt,
wieħed kultant;
igarawh u jistennewh ifaqqa’
ġo moħħhom mistagħdar.
Il-plaħħ tal-bidu,
tixgħel, nadifa tazza,
qisha tbissima f’salt;
u mifrux madwarha l-ħjiel,
qisu tingiż tal-labar,
qisu waqt li għadda u m’għaddiex.

III.
Tinqata’ ma’ sħabek fid-dlam tas-swar,
bil-flixkun f’idejk;
tistenna l-post eżatt f’moħħok;
tistenna t-tkaxkir taż-żraben jinbela’;
tistenna l-ġimgħa kollha tiskot;
tistenna l-ħsibijiet jixxarrbu sew, ir-rabja, il-ġlied,
il-kisriet, l-isqaqien.
Imbagħad tqabbad il-flixkun ma’ xufftejk,
u bla ma terġa’ ttiegħem il-ħadid mat-tarf;
u bla ma xxomm mill-ġdid ix-xgħir jiżżerżaq ġo griżmejk,
taħtaf il-flixkun frisk minn għonqu,
taqilbu rasu ’l isfel,
u sakemm l-aħħar qatra taqbeż minnu
u titkaxkar bejn il-ġilda u s-suf ta’ idek,
tisimgħu jifqa’ s-sema.

IV.
Tisma’ l-ħġieġ maqbud jinħeles.
Imbagħad għal mument wieħed twil
ix-xejn.

V.
Il-ġimgħa l-ġdida tibda bil-fdalijiet.

Jgħaddi maħrub il-vann bl-ixkupi tondi mqabbdin
waħda fuq kull naħa fuq quddiem;
warajh, ħjiel ta’ dak li kien.
Fil-paviment ikkusksjat ta’ fuq is-swar ileħħu l-kristalli.

A Week StartingWith What Remains

I.
Walking, you feel the glass on the Walls
struggle between the soles of your shoes
and the tiles,
a crunch in your spine,
fresh as a game of hide-and-seek out in the open.

II.
On Saturday night they smash beer bottles,
not steadily but every so often;
throwing them, waiting for the burst
in their boggy minds.
The plash at the start
lights up a spotless glass,
a sudden smile;
spread round, the hint of it
pricked with needles:
a moment that has, and hasn’t, passed.

III.
You go with friends to the dark Walls,
bottle in hand;
wait for the exact moment in your head,
where the dragging shoes are swallowed;
you wait for the week’s silence;
the thoughts soak in, anger, the fights,
the crooks, the shameful alleys.
Gripping the cap between lips
without tasting the metal at the edge
not smelling the barley slipping
through your throat,
grabbing the fresh bottle by its neck,
turning it upside down
before the last drop jumps out,
dragging itself between the skin and hair
on your hand,
hearing it burst through the sky.

IV.
You hear caught glass break free.
Then, for a long moment,
emptiness.

V.
The new week begins with what remains.

The sweeper-van, circular brooms
spinning forward,
passes quickly;
afterwards, only a clue to what was.
On the cobbled Walls
crystals glow.

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