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December 2007

Good-bye to All That: Partings

Hai Phong
Yellow lamps, prostitutes' eyes Lines of sad provincial poems On a farewell afternoon, yellow leaves are falling Ocean winds have no ports or borders Ocean clouds go their own way Like dates, the…
Translated from Vietnamese
From behind a Closed Window
Is there, out there, a sky Sunny or windy or humid with autumn A sky at dawn, or a sunset sky? Are there, out there, human faces Strange or familiar Happy or hurting Friendly faces, or faces like beasts'?…
Translated from Vietnamese
The Utopian
I will find myself in a mirror My name in a line of poetry My destiny in a person I've never met Once I lay in the sun by the Caspian Sea Listening to songs of seaweed and foam A sleepwalker with…
Translated from Vietnamese
A Bullet Fired into the Night
Like a falling leaf in a dream Or an arm in a dream, dangling A night flight, with eyes wide open A June night, an astonished look No one sees the vanished smile The soldier's dark face above the…
Translated from Vietnamese
Inscription on a Tomb
And I felt your pure and sad soul As you'd feel the moon float in silence     Behind drawn curtains. And I felt your poor and bashful soul, Like a beggar, hand stretched at the gate,…
Translated from Romanian
An Odd Story
By Karel Tichý
I glanced at the wreath against the tombstone and was amazed to read my own name on it: TO MY SECOND MOTHER—FROM KAREL HRABĚ.In our family there had never been anybody by that name.My father, Abraham…
Translated from Czech by Dagmar Herrmann
Parting, a scene
By Dvorah Baron
“Parting,” first published in Hebrew in 1914, revolves around the biblical injunction (and the Jewish custom) that a man must marry and support his brother’s widow. However, in later…
Translated from Hebrew by Tsipi Keller
Ice Cream
By Mercè Rodoreda
“Here you are, which do you want: lemon-yellow or rose-pink?”He had bought two ice creams and with a sad look on his face was offering them to her so she could choose. The woman at the cart…
Translated from Catalan by Martha Tennent
Old Man with Garden at the Rear End of Time
By Mia Couto
In the Dona Berta garden, there’s a bench. The only one left. All the others have been torn up, turned into loose planks bound for firewood. On this last remaining bench there lives an old man.…
Translated from Portuguese by David Brookshaw
End of the Line
By Sergi Pàmies
On his last day of work, a train engineer makes a ritual of saying goodbye to a cow in this short story by Sergi Pàmies.Six days a week, at the exact same time, the locomotive slices…
Translated from Catalan by Lisa M. Dillman
Under the Surface
By Mojca Kumerdej
“Are you sure you aren't coming swimming with me?” he asked me while he was entering the cold water on the lakeside gravel.“You know I'm not . . . I don't like swimming,”…
Translated from Slovenian by Laura Cuder Turk
Dr. Gordeau
By Gaute Heivoll
IWhen the plane has almost come to rest, he sees an angel. The angel is sitting right at the back of the small baggage train on its way across the runway. A young man. Or a woman? Longish hair. His eyes.…
Translated from Norwegian by Don Bartlett
Love Begets Love
By Millôr Fernandes
The day, along with Ismael, was dying. Under the blanket his still young body shuddered, the body of a man whose life had not been very productive. At his side, his wife Isaura, also still young, attended…
Translated from Portuguese by Clifford E. Landers
There was a time when my only passions were poverty and rain. Now I feel the purity of limits and my passion would not exist were I to know its name. * * * I remember the chill of dawn, the circles of…
Translated from Spanish
By Andrés Barba
The ad in the “male seeking male” section said: I'm so alone. Roberto. (91) 3077670. and was in among others listing predictable obscenities and a series of oral necessities. Page 43.…
Translated from Spanish by Lisa M. Dillman