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Irakli Qolbaia

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice

The year was so full of squash
      and whatever best I have       I willed for thee
        the best you had for you I wished you’d also    will
for me
            all     that is human  in you         and beyond it
                   you are so full of animal       exactly as I am
      though we know not
                                                chi lo sa?
              all that I love in you   all that is in you
all I found in you   and whatever I added there
                                                when I was turning your thoughts into mine
            the year so full of squash
                               the winter so full of warmth        that
                                                            nobody promised us
       but ours it is, if we want,    here, at the poem’s edge
                             that we have never known how to enter


            Now dawn           but there is in the light winter evenings
a single instant     when the smoker wishes one metallic cylindrical
dustbin at the entrance of each shop:           at times
all of us want so much to      enter somewhere         there is, of course
       something horrifying about the first bus of the morning   like an owner
come out for walk leash in his hand         but forgot the dog at home
have you seen?          or just like recently   I was talking to
told them all my hatred and they told me too, nothing is changed by
your hatred and your suffering means nothing you only destroy your soul
with that            But we truly know not confines of the soul, do we      nor
what it can contain             for the cupful of curare                   is still full,
not so?          and exactly like bad writing (how rarely we say its
importance!)     but the bad writing happens   and   I will have to learn   how
       to embrace it     wholeheartedly         let it too   inside the writing
          for truly to this day we know not the distinction between bad and good
we know nothing    knowledge is unknown to us   and by refusing our
       own BAD   we lose what’s   our own in us                                             if Eshleman,
the poet of our darkness advices:       begin with this:        the world has no
origin          should we not rather simply say:            begin with this:
                                                                was and was not*

     What’s farthest from me that I should love the
        Celan killed himself by jumping off the poem
                              I spent the winter solstice with the poem
            and why           with the poem            in the poem      I spent my winter
wrapped inside the poem
                                                            at times it gets so cold in our streets


* “was and was not” is here a literal translation of “იყო და არა”, Georgian for “once upon a time”, a typical fairy-tale incipit.

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Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, Irakli Qolbaia spent a couple of years in Europe; after rather fruitless years of academically studying history of art, French literature and other things, he went back to Tbilisi (where he now lives). He slipped out of the academic space and went on (as before) to devote most of his time to reading, writing and translating.

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