Agim Mato is an Albanian writer. He was just 20 years old when his first book ‘South’ was published. Four years later he completed his second book of poems entitled ‘On the Doorsteps of Our Homes’. But when his father became a political prisoner, Mato’s right to have his work published was revoked and his books were ordered to be pulped. From that time on he was not allowed to publish his work anymore during the communist regime. After the collapse of the communist rule, Mato founded a successful publishing house “Milosao”. In 2011, three of his books entitled,‘Outside of the Eclipse’, ‘Immersion’,and Navigations’ were published. Currently Mato is the President of the ‘Ionian Writers Association. In the year 2014, the President of Albania accorded him the ‘Grand Master’ title.
I AWAIT TO LEAVE THIS BODY
I await to leave this body. I can no longer dwell
in this caricature burned by forgotten dreams, lit
during lonely nights
by the fires that so devour
and nearly scorch it entirely.
Many times have I let this body drip,
awaiting nights and days on the brink of time, edge of galaxies
under the deafening resonation of stars.
I can no longer stay and dig
in these buried cities of memories,
where the wind blows the diapers off the dead poems,
in case I find in the heaps of rubbish
a lost caress, the shell out of which appeared Aphrodite
and the glimmer of a light extinguished by the storms.
What’s done is done in this life. Now I’m a beggar
who stretches his hand out to proverbs.
they will briefly donate to me the magic password to open
the Sesame of beauty
that I did not reach.
If not today, tomorrow I will leave this body.
It is pointless
to stay inside these remains
calcified by the years, the waiting
and the grunts of previous censors.
VERY LONELY IN THE SOUTH
I am lonely in the South, wizened over the cliff,
blackened and worn by the rotations of the galaxies,
leaked on by the stars, cleaned by lunar droppings.
Lonely and forgotten by the ships that have long
changed their itinerary.
A loner with his lights turned off
over the frightening abyss of the sea,
feeling only a few faraway flickering signals whose
meaning I have forgotten.
Lightless and blind I stand in front of the gods.
A better fate befell Prometheus
when they sent Hermes to change his nails up there
on the cliffs of the Caucus.
At least they exchanged a few words –
He would learn of what had happened below.
But here where I am on this cliff,
lost on the deluge of the waves, nobody comes
as before to bring the acetylene gas to clean the lamp
and to light once again the fire of my soul.
I am lonely in the South,
Wiped off the register of the maps of the sea.
You’re asking me to come down below to the town where you live,
asking a host of angels to defeat me by my love for them,
but I’ll stay here with the crowd that have passed away.
I cannot leave them now while they need my friendship;
with my two-pronged hoe that hoes around tombs,
with the old kettle I water their flowers,
for a cigarette,
a box of matches,
a lit candle.
Now the stairs of your flats would tire me.
The wind in the night makes the church bells ring
and I remember that one of them beats its rusty clapper.
I wake up and lay on my bed but I’m not comfortable
because of the empty space there –
left by the absence of my ill-fated lover.
And I think about my life,
appearing in front of my eyes,
with a lump in my throat.
I am a child again, a wife, give birth to my children:
I fill the rooms with you and those that are gone and with my own breath.
They say that the breath of the household keeps the house standing still.
I visit all the corners one after another,
touch all your photographs,
forgotten toys, cane still hanging on the wall,
a hat hung on a nail,
old shoes the gap under the stairs.
The cat Beleck majestically walks through the yard
with its tail raised that no one shall praise any more;
my black dog tied to the fig tree, in his daydream remembering the smell of each of you.
I also remember my childhood playing with skipping ropes
and going to fill the wooden jugs and clay ewers from
the Great Fountain Spring,
with musk and humidity around,
the splashing of the water on our feet summer and winter,
going into the large dugout cavities of the cave from where the water came,
the darkness and the echoes from within
as if they were coming from the afterlife
that we believed existed;
sometimes our peers would come and play the game of hide and seek;
the serpent resembling a witch with its tail in a knot engraved in the dugout that thrilled.
We spread out from there roaring like a flock of birds flying
from trees that had been targeted by stones.
During the school holidays
we would gather poppies, Mallow Plants and Smoke Trees
and we dried them in the yard,
spread on old sheets we used no more –
afraid that the wind would blow them away;
and we played the game of limping
to the sounds of the cicadas and evening birdsong.
I see the lights during the night down there where you live
and I miss you.
I cannot say it out loud
but my spirit burns to hear the host of angels that call for me in the distance.
How can I let go of the memories that cling to my spirit,
lives of countless generations that keep me connected –
and then come to you ?