Josip Osti

TONIGHT THE SNOW SMELLS OF YOU
(Poetry)

         

Josip Osti, a poet, prose writer and essayist, literary critic, anthologist and translator, was born on 19 March 1945 in Sarajevo, where he graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy. He lives as a
freelance artist in Tomaj, Slovenia. He has published twenty five books of poetry (last eight written in Slovenian), three books of prose, thirteen books of essays, literary criticism and journalistic texts ; he has translated more than ninety books and sixteen plays by Slovenian authors. Some forty translations of his books in Slovenian, Italian, Czech, English, Polish, Turkish, Bulgarian and
Macedonian have been published so far.

TONIGHT THE SNOW SMELLS OF YOU
(poetry) English translation by Alan McConnell-Duff


To Urška

A small poem
burgeoning within me
and outgrowing me.

Before me, as before the sun,
you undress completely –
with no shame.

The snow whiteness of our skins
covers the darkness
within us.

From under the snow of the sheets
this morning we peeped out
like the first lilies-of-the-valley.

Outside it's snowing. And onto me
are snowing
your warm kisses.

Your knees,
covered by the sheet –
white peaks of hills.

Naked by the window
you look towards the white hills,
equally white.

In front of the house – snow
and a bare rose-bush. And in it
an empty nest.

Empty until yesterday,
the nest is full of snow.
To the brim and over.

In the morning there was
snow in the glass. At noon, water.
In the evening ice.

Around you are
countless snowflakes. Or
white butterflies?

I love you,
I wrote in the snow
which is still snowing.

All our wounds and pains
have been snowed over
by the fresh snow.

It snows day and night.
No trace that we had even
come this far together.

All around, everywhere,
the snow is glimmering.
And so are we – two stars.

We two are together
and alone – like a star
in a sky full of stars.

Snow brings me – at the same time –
the light of childhood
and of afterlife.

Our hearts –
two white rabbits
in deep snow.

We are children again:
chasing snowflakes
with open heart.

Barefoot we dance in the snow.
Embrace. And are
white as music.

The whiteness around us
leaves traces
also within us.

We are strolling
on a white sea.
Yet that is no miracle.

Beyond the snowed-in horizon
lies the border
with the land of the dead.

We are wayfarers.
The way from birth to death:
from all into all.

We are amid the white
pathlessness, and each path
is the right one.

The soul bathes naked
in the whiteness, gentleness
of the snow.

Our souls are two harpstrings
caressed
by light.

Snow – your white skin.
My hand caresses
both alike.

I caress you, and my palm
strays across the glades
and through the dark forest.

With each movoment
you ripple the air
which, like you, embraces me.

We shall dance –
perhaps for once
just like two snowflakes.

A blackbird with a snowflake crown.
Gilded upon it
the early sun.

This winter, from the blackbirds
I've learnt singing –
lovesong.

Heart on the snow
pierced by the sun's
golden dart.

With my finger I write in the snow.
The sun reads –
at the same time wiping it away.

My loveliest poems
I wrote with fingers
on your skin.

If snow is falling
as we stroll,
you too are grey-haired.

With snowflakes in your hair
I see you
as a scented elder-flower.

Snow conceals
each grey hair of yours.
And then – sunlight reveals it.

On the eyelash –
a snowflake.
Redoubled in your eyes.

Day, although outside grey,
within us light, white,
sunny and sparkling.

We are two candles lit,
yet at the same time
one warm light.

It's snowing also
on Van Gogh's sunflowers.
On the book about him.

Chagall also painted snow
with colours of
the fire of love.

This winter all is white.
So too is our love.
White. Radiant.

Glade beneath the snow
like a vast bed.
In it again – we two.

Like you, I'm blinded
by the snow. Its whiteness
is revealed by touch.

Snowily, tenderly, I caress you
like a gust of wind
skimming over the snow.

You are the embrace of fire,
caress of air, water…
and the kiss of earth.

Tonight the snow
smells of you,
of our tender love.

On the map of your body
each time
I am like Columbus.

On you and in you
I have already discovered
not just America.

Even as we sleep
our souls are still
embracing.

At one time we're together
for two winters; at another:
for spring, summer, autumn.

I'm listening: the snowflakes and stars
are talking in their sleep –
like you.

Even in the snowdesert
I'm not alone,
for you are within me.

In my dreams you are real,
yet dreamlike
in reality.

The bare linden branches
are scented
with the tea that warmed us.

We're no angels.
Yet on a pinhead
we two can dance.

Your chilly palm – with the touch
of skin beneath the shirt –
brings warmth.

Quicksilver you are.
Once spilled, I never can
put you back together.

When I say you're the sun –
that's no symbol,
for iz really does warm me.

Naked in the snow
we realise:
whiteness also burns.

You would not believe
that we did not go together
over the snow of my dreams.

We bathed ourselves in ashes.
Still warm
from the dreams of live coals.

Onto us, naked
in the memory of the mirror,
it now is also snowing.

Over the snow you run
with wolves, after the deer –
after the wounded soul.

From the snowflakes we learn
the painless fall
from the heights.

We two – even if
we're snowed in –
will be saved by gentleness.

We do not need
to sneak a glance
at the clock of timelessness.

You are kising timelessness.
For long. While I
am couting time.

I wish for eternal winter.
Then you would be
embraced forever.

Winter is thawing between us.
Down we sink
into the warm snow.

There will be snow,
even when there is none,
just as we two will be.

Snow reminds me of your skin,
which will remind me of it
in summer.
Not only in wintertime,
but all the time we're celebrating
each victory and defeat.

When you return from the south
the thaw will have begun.
Winter will be gone.

How many seeds
still unawakened
beneath the blanket of snow!

The smile of the cherry-tree
dreaming of its first blossom.
That melts the last snow.

The snow of eternal winter
can be thawed only
by the fire of eternal love.

As snow the snowflake,
great love
swallows small ones.

Love, like snow, is pure.
It can be sullied only
by itself.

When I see the moon –
I see you. And the star
beside it – your daughter.

I am a tree which set out
from the wood after you.
I follow you.

They embrace each other –
my soul after the snow,
and yours after the ocean.

Time has not stopped.
Only we – two clock-hands –
are kissing.

When we embrace
we are sharing
slivers of light and dark.

Silent universe.
Peace within us. We hear –
what we have not said.

All that we are, my love,
can be made real only
by the white infinity.

For you I'm weaving a wedding dress
only from snowflakes
and snow-words.

One time we'll be
in evening dress.
You in a black blouse.

You are on the other side
calling to me. Do I hear you,
if I myself am already there?

I'm courting you
althoug you're already married
to the old universe.

We are bathing
in the warm ashes of snow.
Naked. Delighted.

On my eyelashes it's snowing again –
as once
your warm kisses did.

A crow has landed on a branch
and it's snowing down on me –
although it is not snowing.

Child of the West –
each day more I become
the old man of the East.

When I will be setting,
the sun will be rising.
I go towards him.

Ljubljana, January 2009