POETRY - Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh


Áiféilín / A Matter of Some Regret

No, I’m not so depressed
As to stay
Under the duvet
All day
That would be an exaggeration

It’s just that
My eye
Gladdened at the sight of you,
Left behind
Last night

And this morning
There’s a taste of stout
And regret In my mouth

Translated by Gabriel Rosenstock

Bhís dom’ thiomáint cois trá / You were driving by the sea

You were driving by the sea
in the dream,
explaining your regret,
why you led us not into temptation.

And I remembered then
the biblical rain
that lashed your conscience
at the doorway of desire.

I woke with my feet
in a puddle of rainwater,
the church-bell
counting my sorrows.

Translated by Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh and Billy Ramsell

Mac Leanna / Groggy Grá

I know your tipsy silences,
my groggy grá,
I know your clumsy touch.

I make out your two eyes
dancing in darkness,
my gaze unreturned.

Ah but I’ll never experience
the music filling your mind,
that rowdy accompaniment.

Unpublished. Translated by Billy Ramsell and Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh

Buntús Cainte
for people who cannot understand Irish-language poetry

Forgive me
but you are the third creature
that has approached me this evening
looking for forgiveness.

Forgive my
you and your sense
of national identity
every time I open my mouth

the wasted money
on useless translations
Tá brón orm that you don't understand
my Irish.

Forgive me for
the hatred
you feel
for your brutish teacher,
the years you suffered
this bloody language.

But isn't is great to hear the Irish
– such lovely sounds –
– such rich-sounding sounds –
– such sounds, meaningless silky silly syllables.

English, there are no words for you

Translated by Gabriel Rosenstock

Filleadh ar an gCathair / Citybound

Returning tonight
I can taste the city’s sweat
around me.

I like its sweetness.

The Present Tense bounces
recklessly off walls
in the heat of the afternoon.

I admit toxic fumes
intoxicate me.

Although you don’t see
the setting sun here
in the vast expanse of sky

Night plunges
between tall buildings
without warning.

but neon lights light up
the foreign corners of my heart.

Faoiseamh a gheobhadsa
on a moonlit ledge
my ear tuned to traffic’s song.

St Nick's
149th Street and St Nicholas Avenue

It's all red and smoky blackness
In St Nick's underground,
blackness and velvety red.

Man no man
could resist this music's
pull through velveteen drapes.

Beyond it is like some urban Eden:
the tobacco-sweet air
sweetened with whisperings,

the bass's vibrations
in drones of pleasure
racing right through you,

the brush licked cymbals,
the stiff brushes
caressing stretched skin,

the wet mouth open,
the trumpet lifted toward it.
Black and velvet red.

Translated by Billy Ramsell

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