Mary O’ Donnell
came to me in stamps.
“Magyar Posta” ice-skaters, delicate
as Empire porcelain, a fish, an astronaut
and rocket, a silvery boy on 1960s skis.
I understood only difference.
Now, flying home from Budapest,
I touch the pages of my poems, freshly minted
in translation. Now I really don’t get them,
but did I ever? The words will make me
briefly native to a coffee-slugging morning reader
on the Vaci Ut, who may not understand,
even in his own tongue.
The lines shimmer as night slips
through the tilting crowded cabin. Again
I press fingers to page, blind, as if by touch
I could capture a fish, an astronaut, a rocket,
or those elegant, ice-cutting skaters.
Outside, clouds I cannot see
busily translate country to country.”
Hungary is © Mary O’ Donnell
Mary O’ Donnell
Mary O’Donnell is the author of eleven books, both poetry and fiction, and has also co-edited a book of translations from the Galician. Her titles include the best-selling literary novel “The Light-Makers”, “Virgin and the Boy”, and “The Elysium Testament”, as well as poetry such as “The Place of Miracles”, “Unlegendary Heroes”, and her most recent critically acclaimed sixth collection “The Ark Builders” (Arc Publications UK, 2009). She has been a teacher and has worked intermittently in journalism, especially theatre criticism. Her essays on contemporary literary issues are widely published. She also presented and scripted three series of poetry programmes for the national broadcaster RTE Radio, including a successful series on poetry in translation during 2005 and 2006 called ‘Crossing the Lines‘. Today, she teaches creative writing in a part time capacity at NUI Maynooth, and has worked on the faculty of Carlow University Pittsburgh’s MFA programme in creative writing, as well as on the faculty of the University of Iowa’s summer writing programme at Trinity College Dublin.