Original by Miriam Drev
Translated, from the Slovenian, by Miriam Drev & Barbara Siegel Carlson
The Double Ring
No need for drama! Grit your teeth, close your eyes, it’ll be over soon. Sometimes it just hurts. Trite
phrases they load on kids. Elbows and knees bloody from falling on macadam. One of the grownups
clears sand from the scrapes, disinfects them. As they sting, you move away, eyes closed. From a body
of pain to a light canopy.
You come from somewhere else, and for a short time still remember. Being from both sides briefly.
Perhaps, however, this dimension of the wider is an illusion of a human cell that turns into an embryo
after a few weeks. A creature that has not yet detected light in its optic cup.
Sometime later, you hear about the double ring of perception. When you descend through the birth
canal, one ring loosens. Is it still half-attached; does it dissolve? Apparently it’s meant to be forgotten. It
rolls off like a ring disappearing through a crack in the floor. You can’t stay whole.
We’re told that we come into light, see the light of the world. But first you find yourself in a void. Cut off
from something nutritious. And no one stays whole.
Brez drame! Stisni zobe, zamiži in bo mimo. Včasih mora zaboleti. Ustaljene fraze, s katerimi
Krvavih komolcev in kolen od padca s skiroja na makadam. Eden od odraslih mi pobira pesek
iz ran, jih razkuži. Ker skeli, se miže prestavim stran. Iz mučnega telesa v rahlo krošnjo.
Od nekod prideš; krajši čas sem zajemala z obeh strani.
Mogoče pa je ta razsežnost širšega samo utvara človeške celice, ki se po nekaj tednih
spremeni v zarodek. Utvara bitja, ki z očesno piko še ne zazna svetlobe.
Nekoč pozneje slišim razlago o dvojnem obroču zaznave. Ko se spustiš v porodni kanal, se en
del razrahlja. Je še kje napol pripet; odmre? Očitno namenjen pozabi. Odkotali se, kot izgine
prstan skozi režo v tleh. Ne moreš ostati cela.
Pri nas se reče, da prideš na svetlo, zagledaš luč sveta. Toda najprej se znajdeš v praznini.
Najprej te od nečesa hranilnega odrežejo. In nihče ne ostane cel.
Original by Miriam Drev
Translated, from the Slovene, by Miriam Drev & Barbara Siegel Carlson
Something is welling up in her, stinging. On a warm evening, as usual, she steps out the door to look
around the yard and at the peach trees in the garden before locking the door for the night.
She looks up at the sky. The summer constellations appear to be stitched with black thread.
The black stitches enter her field of vision, then transfer to her dreams.
During the day, she sees them in zigzag on the tablecloth, in the soapsuds. If she ran her hand across
her face to drive them away, they would reappear.
Rain sliding across the panes now has this pattern.
When she goes on errands, the surroundings sound, even birdsong are all threaded tightly.
Her blood vessels, even the smallest are pierced with black stitches.
Her three sons, all killed in war, have their eyes sewn shut.
V njej narašča nekaj, kar jo zbada. Na topel večer kot po navadi stopi na hišni prag, da bi se razgledala po
dvorišču in breskovem drevju na vrtu, preden bi čez noč zaklenila vrata.
Ozre se proti nebu. Poletna ozvezdja prekrižajo črni šivi.
Črni šivi so vstopili v njeno vidno polje. Se prenesli v njene sanje.
Čez dan jih v cikcakih videva na kuhinjskem prtu, v milnici, v kateri pomiva posodo. Če gre z roko čez
obraz, da bi jih odgnala, pridejo nazaj.
Dež, polzeč po šipah, ima ta vzorec.
Ko gre po opravkih, se v zvoke iz okolice, še v ptičje petje, zateza črna nit.
Vsako njeno žilo, tudi najdrobnejšo, luknja črn vbod.
Njeni mrtvi, v vojni pobiti sinovi, vsi trije, imajo črne šive čez oči.
Miriam Drev is a poet, novelist and literary translator from English and German, as well as a literary critic and publicist who was born in Ljubljana, Slovenia in 1957. In 2022 her sixth book of poems Ancestral Healing was published, which was selected by prominent literary critics as one of the nine outstanding poetry collections of 2022, and nominated for the prestigious Veronika prize. Tirso appeared in 2017. Her poems have been translated into English (Voices of Slovene Poetry3), German (Stimmen slowenischer Lyrik 4), Italian, German, Polish, Czech, French and Croatian and are published in several anthologies of Slovene poetry as well as in literary magazines abroad. She has also published three novels. In 2014 and 2016 she was among the nominees for the literary award »Mira«, PEN. She lives as an independent writer and translator in Ljubljana.
Barbara Siegel Carlson‘s 3rd book of poems What Drifted Here was published by Cherry Grove Collections in 2023. Her previous books are Once in Every Language (Kelsay Books 2017) and Fire Road (Dream Horse Press 2013). A chapbook Between the Hours was published in 2022. She is the co-translator (with Ana Jelnikar) of Look Back, Look Ahead, Selected Poems of Srečko Kosovel and co-editor (with Richard Jackson) of A Bridge of Voices: Contemporary Slovene Poetry and Perspectives (2017). Her poetry and translations have appeared in The Cortland Review, Mid-American Review, American Journal of Poetry, Salamander, Ezra and Avatar Review among others. Carlson is Poetry in Translation Editor of Solstice. She teaches in Boston and lives in Carver, Massachusetts.