My Mother’s Hollyhocks
To my mother Lata Russinoff
‘Oh God, have mercy on my soul!’
Mother, when the sky was like blue enamel,
You loved to stand and admire these flowers,
Simple and honest as our life together.
You loved their pure humility
Set within the bewitching brilliance of their colours,
The green of fields,
The deeply moving symphony of bright white, apricot,
Pink, red and carmine.
O mother, you who exist now only in the hours
That will never return to this house,
Loving soul, you who one ordinary evening,
Set out like the great Magellan
On propitious winds
The day has burned for a long time,
Like an incense stick,
Behind the violet Rhodope mountains.
My thoughts, white doves nestled
In the branches of the old mulberry tree,
Shiver under the gentle caresses of the breeze.
What will I do
With the panting silence which will soon invade the garden,
Yes, what will I do with the obsessive, unvarying,
Which will soon settle on the tall calyxes of these hollyhocks?
Noiselessly, on tiptoe,
I will leave the ancient veranda,
I will go down the wooden steps,
And I will walk, bent over like a stem, slowly,
Very slowly through the avenues,
In the company of worn words,
Words tired out
Translated from the French of Athanase Vantchev de Thracy by Norton Hodges