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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

 

Wangerberg, August

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

to sing.

 

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.

 

Triesenberg, September

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.

No more.

 

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.

 

Wangerberg, September

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.


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