The bee came up to my lips to dictate
the beginning of a poem found by chance
among the sweet syllables of the orange blossom.
It would have been easy to close my eyes and nod
if it weren’t for the fact that no one had ever taught me
to accept a miracle. I know perfectly well
how to place my hands to receive a poisoned
apple, I know how to tilt my neck
to feel the slow, red nibble of
night, how cruelty accumulates
at the base of all mirrors. What are hands
if not for taking an offering? How to open them properly
to accept the unexpected gift. The next day
it’s always too late: the bee has gone, no flowers
remain on the orange treetop, and the syllables don’t find
the right order for a happy ending.
Sharon Dolin is the award-winning author of six collections of poetry, most recently: Manual for Living, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016). She received a PEN-Heim Translation Fund grant to translate from Catalan Gemma Gorga’s book of prose poems, Book of Minutes, which is forthcoming in a bilingual edition from the Field Translation Series, Oberlin University Press in Spring, 2019. The two poems here are from an ongoing translation project: Selected Poems of Gemma Gorga. She directs Writing About Art in Barcelona each June.
Gemma Gorga is a contemporary poet writing in Catalan, author of seven books of poetry, most recently Viatge al Centre (Voyage to the Center, Barcelona, 2018) and Mur (Wall, Barcelona, 2015), which won the Premi de la Critica de Poesia Catalana for the best book of poetry published in Catalan for that year. Her collection of prose poems, Llibre dels minuts (Book of Minutes, Barcelona 2006) won the Premi Miquel de Palol (2006). She teaches Medieval and Renaissance Spanish Literature at the University of Barcelona.