Christopher Burawa is a poet and translator. His most recent publication is a translation of Icelandic Modernist poet Steinn Steinarr’s most famous work, Time and Water, which he co-translated with Cynthia Hogue. He lives with his wife and daughter in Red Wing, Minnesota.
Regret, Speckled by Want
I look up at the failing clouds
and dictate yet another epistle to you
but can’t remember where one letter
ends and I resume the grim Nirvana.
I live in a cave now that has been lived in
before, its walls carved with glyphs
I do not recognize, the bone tools neatly
arranged as if for me. Beyond a shallow
river, without cobbles, spreads into
a flat stretch of veld
only a general from his saddle could love.
Just between us: the general’s mount froths at the bit,
chewing out green bubbles that drop,
out of constancy,
onto his henchman’s polished boot.
The dog rose has found itself again, born
of a filament, remembering itself not
from where I pulled it out by the canes,
but from between the gabbro retentions
the length of the declarative alluvium—
where red grasses lean…
Within ten years the roses will subsume
the rock, inviting foxes, and their nervous
Is it too much of me to ask you to write me back?
Last night I dreamt I was in a public bath,
talking to a dead friend, and I casually turned
my head, as one does,
and caught a glimpse of you as you passed behind me,
escorted by the general, and your only gesture to press
a finger to my spine before you walked away.
Let me be clear:
the clouds stream up from the south
in winter, over where he waits.
Should any word arrive from you,
I will walk out onto the black plain,
lie down, and expect an apology.