We Should Visit Living Poets| Yannis Varveris

We should visit living poets
especially if we happen to dwell in the same town
drop in on them from time to time
because as we spend our quiet lives
certain that they too are alive – though maybe forgotten –
we hear the sad news.

Good poets pass away one day
not because they die
of heart failure or cancer
but because on their eyelids sprout
horrendous flowers.

At first they delve in medical books
then they consult the optician
ask botanists and gardeners
science gives up
offers vague cautious words
passersby and neighbours cross themselves.

Thus the poets gradually withdraw
to the seclusion of their homes
listening to old records
writing little
less and less
mediocre stuff.
Meantime in this confinement
the horrendous flowers begin to wilt
and wither
and the poets no longer go out
not even to the nearby kiosk for cigarettes.
They sit shrunken by the fireplace
seeking answers from the fire
which eventually throws out a spark
first landing on the dry petals
then on the dry stems
all over the body
and the entire house
the surroundings
brighten for a single moment

and they are burnt to ashes.


Yannis Varveris (1955 – 2011) was a Greek poet, critic and translator.

Translation by Spyros Aravanis

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