Lakshmi Holmström 
Translator

on Lyrikline: 5 poems translated

from: التاميلية to: الانجليزية

Original

Translation

[My room needs no calendar]

التاميلية | Sukirtharani

from: Wild Girls, Wicked Words
Audio production: Haus für Poesie / 2016

[My room needs no calendar]

الانجليزية

There are no windows at all
in my room which sleeps just one.
 
Does the  sun rise on the left?
Is the moon shining overhead?
I don’t worry about any of it.
 
What connection can there be
between offering your body
and knowing what time it is?
 
I never keep track
of the time, or my body,
or the tally of men who visit me.
 
When they take my clothes off,
I must pretend that
I am bashful and
groan in pleasure.
 
As they write on me
with their penises,
I will my body to stop
from slithering away.
 
In the bruised, red toothmarks
they freeze their frothing sperm.
 
At all such moments,
I yearn for the caress
of a season when the days
and nights that gobble up
my proud youth are over.
What should I teach my children
asleep in the room downstairs?
 
It’s easy to teach them to
consort with and train animals.
That’s what I’m doing.
 
My children keep pestering
 me to blow up the condoms
lying scattered on the floor
of my room that needs no calendar.

Translated by Lakshmi Holmström

[My body]

التاميلية | Sukirtharani

from: Wild Girls, Wicked Words
Audio production: Haus für Poesie / 2016

My body

الانجليزية

Through a mountain where small shrubs abound
flows a river.
Along its banks, branches of trees
running with sap, lean over,
and touch the water’s surface.
The fruit, tasting richly of ginger
break open their fine skins
and put forth their seeds.
Water spills from the hollows
in the rocks, and cascades from the edge of cliffs.
A tiger, replete from its kill,
wets its blood-smeared mouth
at the swift water-streams.
As it climbs down, scarlet ash scatters
from a volcano’s gaping mouth.
A vortex, whirling clockwise,
agitates the earth. The day’s heat
dissolves into the night’s coolness.
In the end Nature becomes my body, lying still.

Translated by Lakshmi Holmström

[Infant language]

التاميلية | Sukirtharani

from: Wild Girls, Wicked Words
Audio production: Haus für Poesie / 2016

[Infant language]

الانجليزية

I need a language
still afloat in the womb
which no one has spoken so far,
which is not conveyed through signs and gestures.
It will be open and honourable
not hiding in my torn underclothes.
It will contain a thousand words
which won’t stab you in the back
as you pass by.
The late night dreams I memorized -
hoping to share them -
will not be taken for complaints.
Its meanings will be as wide as the skies.
Its gentle words won’t wound
the tender surface of the tongue.
The keys of that unique language
will put an end to sorrow,
make way for a special pride.
You will read there my alphabet, and feel afraid.
You will plead with me in words
that are bitter, sour and putrid
to go back to my shards of darkened glass.
And I shall write about that too, bluntly,
in an infant language, sticky with blood.

Translated by Lakshmi Holmström

[Nature’s fountainhead]

التاميلية | Sukirtharani

from: Wild Girls, Wicked Words
Audio production: Haus für Poesie / 2016

Nature’s fountainhead

الانجليزية

Say you bury me alive.
I will become a green grass-field
and lie outspread, a fertile land.
You may set me on fire;
I will become a flaming bird
and fly about in the wide, wide space.
You may wave a magic wand
and shut me up, a genie in a bottle;
I will vaporize as mercury
and stand upright towards the sky.
You may dissolve me into the wind
like water immersed into water;
from its every direction
I will emerge, like blown breath.
You may frame me, like a picture,
and hang me on your wall;
I will pour down, away past you,
like a river in sudden flood.
I myself will become
earth
fire
sky
wind
water.
The more you confine me, the more I will spill over,
Nature’s fountainhead.

Translated by Lakshmi Holmström

[Portrait of my village]

التاميلية | Sukirtharani

from: Wild Girls, Wicked Words
Audio production: Haus für Poesie / 2016

Portrait of my village

الانجليزية

How can I bear to see
my dry lands, surrounded by rocks and hills,
rent, as if by an earthquake’s fissures?
The thick sour smell
of the fermented gruel
paid as wages for grass cut and bundled,
received with palms cupped and raised,
hands already ripped by ulundu plants -
still pervades the body, like a ductless gland.
When the single measure of paddy -
flung to us for carrying away and burying
their dead animals - turned to chaff,
the tormenting hunger that followed
still moves in the memory.
Our bare feet are drenched
by the pain of caste that drips from our lips
as we drink tea from palm-leaf cups,
standing at an untouchable distance,
while the portrait of our village
frames itself at a place of double existence,
always vigilant.

Translated by Lakshmi Holmström