The Ofi Press Magazine

International Poetry and Fiction from Mexico City

Eva Salzman: 1 Poem Published 

 

The Buddhas of Bamiyan

 

like the Venus de Milo,

 

may seem more beautiful without their feet

 

but if your gaze soars upwards

 

how not too upward? How?

 

 

 

The Buddhas of Bamiyan

 

cannot compete with an authentic God,

 

should never bear the face of even the false God.

 

You, who are as arrogant as the usual man,

 

may love more deeply the pity of the headless

 

 

 

and footless Buddha of Bamiyan, and doubly so.

 

You, who can meditate only bodily,

 

don’t deserve the pelvis of Buddha.

 

God is the greatest practitioner of art

 

and her favourite sculpture is a modest man.

 

 

 

Like the Venus de Milo

 

(if you are the man who dwells on her),

 

the twin Buddhas of Bamiyan,

 

armless, can still embrace Afghanistan unbroken,

 

embrace those who would rather die than keep

 

 

 

a Buddha from divinity: its vanishing trick.

 

You who have a mind to, who have lofty minds

 

like the Buddhas’ minds can both miss and let them go,

 

imagining the fragments we must make of them

 

whole again as our signature on an empty sky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eva Salzman (USA)

Translation by unknown. First published in Spain.

Published in The Ofi Press, Issue 31 (August 2013).

Poem in Spanish Translation

Los Budas de Bamiyan,

 

como la Venus de Milo,

podrían parecer más bellos sin los pies.

¿Su mirada no debería elevarse hacia arriba?

¿Pero si no es demasiado arriba, cómo?

 

Los Budas de Bamiyan

no pueden competir con un Dios auténtico,

no deben llevar nunca ni siquiera la cara de un Dios falso.

Vosotros, que sois tan arrogantes como los hombres

                                                                       corrientes,

podéis amar adecuadamente tanto a los sin-cabeza como

                                                                       a los sin-pies.

 

Los Budas de Bamiyan, doblemente.

Vosotros, que sólo podéis meditar con el cuerpo

no merecéis las pelvis de los Budas.

Dios es el mayor practicante del arte

y su escultura favorita es la de un hombre modesto.

 

Como la Venus de Milo

(si eres el hombre que piensa en ella),

los Budas gemelos de Bamiyan

pueden carecer de brazos y aún así  abrazar a Afganistán,

y aún así  abrazar a aquellos que prefieren morir

 

antes de ver la desaparición de aquellos Budas.

Vosotros que tenéis mentes, que podéis pensar altivos

como los Budas de Bamiyan, podéis a la vez

                        echarles de menos y dejarles marchar,

podéis imaginar los fragmentos que quedan de ellos

 de nuevo unidos, perfilados contra un cielo vacío. 

About the Poet

Eva Salzman, originally from Brooklyn and Long Island, divides her time between the latter and London. She studied at Columbia University, where she received her MFA.

Recent books include Double Crossing: New & Selected Poems (Bloodaxe) and the acclaimed Women’s Work: Modern Women Poets Writing in English(Seren). Her work is frequently broadcast on BBC radio, performed widely in the UK and in the USA especially, and translated internationally (French, Spanish, and Romanian, for example).

A recipient of a Cholmondeley Award from the Society of Authors, she has received grants from the Arts Council of Great Britain and won second prize in the National Poetry Competition. A Royal Literary Fund and West Midlands Fellow at Ruskin College, Oxford and Warwick University respectively, she has also held fellowships at Wesleyan Writers’ Conference and at Villa Mont Noir in France.

Salzman is co-writer of Start Writing Poetry for the Open University and teaches undergraduates and postgraduates, and for all ages and levels: in schools, prisons, adult education programs, and community projects.

For more information about Eva and her work, please go to: http://evasalzman.com/

Image: "Giant standing Buddhas of Bamiyanm still cast shadows" by Sgt. Ken Scar