Blaga Dimitrova
Translated from the Bulgarian by Ludmilla G. Popova-Wightman


In the evening I smooth her sheets,
covered with deep wrinkles.
Her hand,
withered by giving,
pulls me towards the night.

Half asleep, barely able to speak,
she says in a childish voice,
so naturally,
I become my mother's mother.

A cataclysm, a reversal
of the earth's axis—
the poles flip over.
What was I doing? I don't have time
for philosophical musings.

I dry her impatiently—
a skill, I've learnt from her.
"Mommy," she whispers, guiltily,
remembering her naughtiness.
Cold air blows in the window.

The heating pad. The glass. The pills.
To adjust the lamp shade.
"Mommy, don't go away!
I am afraid of the dark!"
Who is losing her mind, she or I?

Heavy with pain and fear, crying,
she waits for me to take her
in my arms. Two orphans cuddle
in the winter cradle.
Which am I?

Wake me up early tomorrow!
I am afraid, I'll oversleep!
Dear Lord, is there something
I have forgotten?
Who will be late, she or I?

Mommy, my child, sleep!
my baby . . .


I will go.
And the space I used to take
will be filled with air—
a liberation—
invisible and spacious.
A silent presence,
from which someone else,
will take a big breath

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