Glosa on ‘Woman of Spring’ by Joan Margarit

by Carol Rumens

     Behind words you are all I have.
     It’s sad never to have lost
     a home because of love.
     It’s sad to die surrounded by respect and reputation.
     I believe in what happens in a poem’s starry night.
                                                  – Joan Margarit, tr. Anna Crowe

Once, you looked love at me; I saw no hatred.
I must have been the world’s worst reader of eyes.
Sorry your nice-girl smiles were mistranslated:
you never would have fobbed me off with lies.
It was the myth I was tending, Heroides,
Harrods, or simply “Let us live…”
Melody of the thousand cadences
Behind words, you are all I have.

When the gods partied, cataracts of fable
poured from your stained pitcher, my statuesque
Iris, a little bruised. Creeps fawned at your table,
warm as the ill-kept wine, and assessed the risk
of an infidelity, shifting shadow by shadow,
and when they heard a fluttering in the grove
of your heavy furniture, they said it’s sad
never to have lost a home because of love.

Yellow beacons are feathering the hill,
planted by those incorrigible suitors.
Your children are dutiful,
quarrying stone, they say, for your new headquarters,
and one day you will ride
out on the shining shoulders of your nation.
If I’m still in the crowd, I’ll grin. It’s sad
to die surrounded by respect and reputation.

We’ll never again meet, and, if we could,
I’d make the same adrenaline mistakes –
panic, nausea, mortification, red
startled to white, the high chant of Sapphics:
Oh, let the apple nod
towards the sunburned hand, bringer of blight.
I myself was once ravished by a god.
I believe in what happens in a poem’s starry night.

 
‘Woman of Spring’ by the Catalan poet Joan Margarit appears in Tugs in the Fog: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 2006), translated by Anna Crowe. The original appeared in Edat Roja, 1991.