Little Fairy Tale by Gemma Gorga – translated by Sharon Dolin

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.