local_library The Hunt for Relics

by Elena Stefoi

Published in Issue No. 42 ~ November, 2000

translated by Liana Vrajitoru and Adam J. Sorkin

A hermit’s retreat painfully built
from front cover to back cover
on its threshold magical stratagems stolen from youth
the blizzard when we met
the greed that budded the universe
that summer day along the sea-wall

eternity accompanies you as you set out
from the cathedral tower on the hunt for relics
her cheap game bag is the envy
of herds of cyclopes and bacchantes
Aesopic swarms linking
the strange square black signs on the map

in the hermit’s small cell on the edge of the bed
an alternative syntax blindly fumbles
and in its aura
as in an improvised ashtray
our common Godforsaken past
still smolders.

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Elena Stefoi is the author of five books of poetry, most recently The Starting Line (1996), from which the poems are taken. She has been an editor of the important political-cultural journal Dilema and a correspondent for Radio France (with daily reports from Bucharest) and the French-language L'Invitation in Bucharest. Currently she is General Consul at the Romanian Consulate in Montréal, Québec. Liana Vrajitoru is a graduate student in English at the State University of New York in Binghamton. Her translations have appeared in Poetry New York, Eclectic, Faultline, and the anthologies Day After Night: Twenty Romanian Poets for the Twenty-First Century (Norcross, GA: Criterion Publishing, 1999) and City of Dreams and Whispers: An Anthology of Contemporary Poets of Iasi (Iasi: The Center for Romanian Studies, 1998). Adam J. Sorkin has published 13 books of translation and numerous poets and poems in literary journals. Among the most recent books are, from BOA Editions, Sea-Level Zero, poems by Daniela Crasnaru (1999); from Bloodaxe, The Triumph of the Water Witch, prose poems by Ioana Ieronim (2000); and in the Poetry New York pamphlet series, Bebop Baby, by Mircea Cartarescu (1999). My collaborative translation with Christina Illias-Zarifopol of poems by Marta Petreu won the first Kenneth Rexroth Memorial Translation Prize in 1999, and Liliana Ursu's The Sky Behind the Forest (Bloodaxe, 1997, with the poet and Tess Gallagher) was short-listed for the Weidenfeld Prize.