Selection of poetry by Immanuel Mifsud





Tomorrow I won’t wake. Don’t reach out for me
to start the day love making. Don’t wake to look for me.
I’ll be in the street through which all fear to walk.
I’ll be there where once I took you with me
and where, frightened, you read the truth about me.
My back will face you and my gaze will face the sunset.
I will be very silent and I’ll be made of stone.

            Translated by Maria Grech Ganado



Ma, I remember you sitting out the back
peeling tangerines and telling me stories,
those tall stories you loved so much to spin.
Ma, I remember the day you told me
you saw the stars fall one by one from heaven,
so many the sea became a sea of lights.

Every night, lying awake, I remember you said
rain drops were Mary’s darning needles,
and if I touched them they wouldn’t prick;
that the wind was only the voice of God singing
and that the thunder and lightning-flashes
were playthings baby Jesus had let fall.

Ma, I remember you beautiful like red roses,
like jasmine, and narcissus, and marguerites.
Ma, I remember your voice quick as a fiddle
playing or falling silent as the fancy struck you.

Then it fell silent never to start again.
Even the flowers can hear the empty silence.
The sea lights have all been switched off.

Ma, it’s time to go. Look, someone has lit the candles.
Someone is waiting to hand you a posy of flowers!
Be sure you smile. Ma, happy Feast Day!


            Translated by Maurice Riordan




Once I saw you dissolve into the sky’s blue,
and into the blue of the sea water.
Once I saw you wear a blue straw hat
and I wanted to die, and to live forever.

Once I dreamed the sea stole the colour from your face,
And the tips of the waves took your eyes’ hue,
And I said: let her gather her hair as a fountain,
Let her gaze swim in the despondency of my eyes.

Look, how the rain falls, an in the background falls
a singing troupe of souterrain women
who will rise again on a moonless night.

Look, how the rain falls, and with it falls
your portrait, the one of old, painted
with dull colours trickling on the glass.


            Translated by Maurice Riordan



I knew by now the story must repeat itself,
that in the middle of the night you were going to scream,
leaving me half dead on the mattress
where the beautiful ghosts had once come
and you lay them down for a night at your side.

There’s a book in which they printed all the stories
and when I open it sometimes to read,
stale tears gather in the shape of a tree
with a very long trunk that seems to touch the sky
with all its leaves falling in silence to the ground.


            Translated by Maurice Riordan



It’s said the trees round here sometimes walk,
that they follow a path down to the river.
They spend the day looking at the water.
They walk back up again when it’s dark.


            Translated by Maurice Riordan


This post is also available in: Macedonian