On Icy Shores by George Vulturescu translated by Adam Sorkin and Olimpia Iacob

So many times have I crossed the Danube
on the thin ice of the steam from my cup of coffee
on the white line of the space between,
between life and death
always with fever,
the fever in the voice of my mother Irina
who never saw the Danube but stayed
on the shore beside me and sang:
                    “At the foot of a Balkan mountain
                    A pretty girl meets a captain...”

a girl who does not want to be anybody’s bride
for whom the Danube is a river of blood
like blood is to me as well, the black in the letters,
the white of the brides who wait between them.


Now you are no longer on the shore, Mama Irina,
and the Danube is no blacker than the line I write
on its thin ice you go onward and onward and I cannot follow:
who shares the black of the letters?
who shares the ice between?
“But fever has no shores, my child. It masters only
the grottos of the line from which you call to me...”


This fever I keep working for. On its black line within the letters
on the white line of the ice between.



George Vulturescu has published more than a dozen poetry collections, among them The North and Beyond the North (2001), Monograms on the Stones of the North (2005), Other Poems from the North (2007), The Blind Man from the North (2009), and Gold and Ivy (2011—in which “The Angel at the Window” appeared). Adam J. Sorkin is a translator of contemporary Romanian literature. Sorkin’s translation of Marin Sorescu’s The Bridge (with Lidia Vianu) won the 2005 Poetry Society Corneliu M. Popescu Prize for European Poetry Translation, and their version of lines poems poetry by Mircea Ivănescu was shortlisted in 2011. Olimpia Iacob is Associate Professor in Modern Languages at “Vasile Goldiș” West University of Arad, Romania. Her book-length translations include prose and poetry by Cassian Maria Spiridon, Gabriel Stănescu, Gheorghe Grigurcu, Petre Got, Mircea Petean, and Magdalena Dorina Suciu, as well as George Vulturescu.