2013 Small Nations Poetry Reading
On September 12, the 8th annual Small Nations Poetry Reading took place at the Katzen Arts Center at American University. An audience of roughly 100 people was able to listen to poetry from the six participating countries. In addition to Liechtenstein, the ambassadors from Austria, Bulgaria, Iceland, Malta and Slovenia read poems from their countries.
From Left: Ambassador Božo Cerar of Slovenia, Ambassador Hans Peter Manz of Austria, Ambassador Elena Poptodorova of Bulgaria, Ambassador Marisa Micallef of Malta, Ambassador Claudia Fritsche of Liechtenstein and Ambassador Guðmundur Árni Stefánsson of Iceland.
The theme of this year’s reading was “Women in Poetry”. Ambassador Claudia Fritsche chose a poem by Beryl Schlossman called “Ghosts and Lovers in Late Summer”. Schlossman, a Liechtenstein-American, writes about the ancient indelible magic of Liechtenstein’s topography, sunlight, trees, animals, plants, and its beliefs. The reading was followed by a reception with wine from all the participating countries along with traditional Middle Eastern food provided by the Embassy of Bahrain.
Ghosts and Lovers in Late Summer
By Beryl Schlossman
Für Rainer Nägele
Out of the banshee cries of home
the heart burns through, the future
goes blank. You water the animals
cut hay with the long scythe, you
walk the edge of long thin woods.
You showed the boy a cure
for homesick tears in pungent curls
of smoke from his first cigarette.
You eased out of range to play cards
in the Café Sele, high on the mountain
looking over the Rhine, a blue curve
far away. From that height no one sees
too much. The water turns trees
to driftwood and wears the striped grey rocks
into smooth ovals curved like faces
and rubbed away with silence.
Grey and yellow birds make their first flights
and the smell of violets suggests women
growing between rocks and mountains.
Up in Wangerberg, there is
much talk of spirits and some
sing louder for their own sake,
but you were not heard
The bird on the pear branch swells with air
and hovers at the steeple, near the last
full roses. August harvests your heart
for the moongreen mountains
and the pines that grow horizontally.
She says she wanted to tell you
something, but she cannot
remember. You say goodbye.
Again, she tells you, holding
out for the blackmail of love
but I want to … I don’t know.
Things she had to remember,
under the crucifix, under the
sun or the moon. Blood they
say, thicker than water, when
it’s too late for anything but
a last look across glass
flowers, ashes in an urn
your mourning. Forgetting.
Picking blueberries on the mountain
hands bleeding, the sun high,
implacable, the dark juice running
down her arms and into the cuts.
Let a mother’s love console you,
that might have been it. No more.
She slips away; the fires burn.
The air is thinner now, the clouds low.
In June, between night and morning
bells jangle through sleep and silence
as the herds climb rock by rock
over the valley above the Rhine.
The shepherd’s staff feels for ground
he sees only a glow of bronze and red
bells on the animals’ soft fur throats.
Their blurred mass rises from darkness.
They are patient. Their wordless hearts
leap for new grass. Light pulls them high.
Mountains loom up from mulled
woods at dawn, myrtle and pine.
Stars fade under threads of rain.
My hands look for you in sleep,
I am wax for your fire.
You hide the empty spool of hours,
fleeing ghosts in the night, arrows
of memory: under the Rhine, over
the blue ice of glaciers, the day.
A precise geography of love
spins us out of a green wind.