For Ivar and Astrid
There is a wooden house
on the plain of Oklahoma.
Each night the house turns
into an island of the Baltic Sea,
a stone that fell from a fabled sky.
Burnished by Astrid’s glances,
ignited by Ivar’s voice,
the stone slowly turns in the shadow:
it is a sunflower and burns.
returned from Saturn,
goes through the wall and disappears
between the pages of a book.
The grass has turned into night,
the night has turned into sand,
the sand has turned into water.
Ivar and Astrid lift up architectures
—cubes of echoes, weightless forms—
some of them called poems,
others drawings, others conversations
with friends from Málaga, Mexico
and other planets.
wander and have no feet,
glance and have no eyes,
speak and have no mouth.
turns and does not move,
ignites and is extinguished,
the night closes,
the sky opens.
wets the lids of the plain.
Translated by Ivar Ivask
First publication in: World Literature Today, Vol. 57, No. 3, Varia Issue (Summer 1983), p. 386.
Poet and literary scholar Ivar Ivask fled from his native Estonia to Germany in 1944, subsequently living in the United States and Ireland. He worked as a professor of Modern Languages and Literatures at the University of Oklahoma, where his writing focused on Spanish-language literature. He served as Editor-in-Chief of World Literature Today—then Books Abroad—from 1967 to 1991, directing the Neustadt International Prize for Literature starting in 1970 and the festival now known as the Puterbaugh Conference on World Literature starting in 1968.