Jana Pácalová in translation


All About My Mother (2012)

(a selection)

on February the eleventh 1963 Sylvia Plath
a mother of two
turned on the gas in her kitchen

I was born sixteen years later

all you will say about your mother
can fit into a single sentence
(some can do with silence)

a psychotherapist will make a short note in his diary
or add a cross to a vertical column

whoever wins this round of noughts and crosses
can pass mother over in silence

whatever about your mother you can't pass over in silence
you will say about yourself

what you keep secret
as if you cried out

(inside yourself you will place a mountain
and so on)

my mother turned the gas on in our kitchen
shortly after
the cake in the oven went cool
the one she baked around noon
while we were asleep
huddled together with heads in soft pillows

I still feel the smell of the cake
every time I go to bed

I still can't bear to look
at my electric oven
without a strange feeling of grievance
which cannot be redressed
by thousands of rounds won in noughts and crosses

I'm still saying to myself
that a warm hand will touch me in my sleep
brush hair off my forehead
cuddle up to me and fall asleep
only to wake up
a couple of hours later

Sylvia P. was my mother
at three ten in the morning
she delivered me
in the maternity ward of the sunny city of P.

but quite easily it could have been another city
another woman
another child
much like the oven in my memories
with my mother's head on the polished rack
is gas powered

on February the eleventh at three ten in the morning
my child was born
in the city of P.

(which in fact
is not as sunny as they say)

I was supposed to be happy
like I'd dreamt it
(as it should be)

but at that moment, divided into two beings
completely independent
(and which I?)

a strange feeling of emptiness
as if you removed the pit from an apricot
and only then you found out
that the sugar was used up a thousand years ago
(in fact you don't remember when)

it was used up
so as to blame on the "was"
all your blunders
or at least the major ones

Copyright © Jana Pácalová 2012
English Edition © Ars Poetica, o. z. 2012
Translation © Pavol Lukáč 2012
Language Editor © John Minahane 2012
ISBN 978–80–89283–56– 9

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