25 Pins in a packet women creators, How Words Play, Maps, New Poetry, New Poetry From Ireland, Translation

“Muiris” and other poems by Victoria Cosgrove

Killaclug IV

I sat in a river in the land of the bad faeries
up the country somewhere in County Cork

When I dove in, the cold water stung my skin like an angry wasp—
or a punishing whip—
before settling me into it’s cool embrace.
Calm.

I tried to swim but the river bed is too shallow;
filled with silt and stones and the bodies of warring brothers and changeling babies that washed in during the winter storms.
Shallow graves in a shallow riverbed
in the land of the Bad Faeries.

When the river speaks it tells me the secrets the locals keep;
but you have to listen.
No one listens anymore.

I sit on the bed of the brothers and the changeling babies and
the water is cold and the breeze is sharp
and the river speaks.

 

Muiris

I am not a poet;
words do not flow freely from my brain
to a pen
to a page.

I am not a poet.
My vocabulary is academic and varied, but my words
arrange themselves in awkward jumbles
that pour out of my mouth into a heap
of tangled sentiments.

I am not a poet.
I want to tell you that your kiss tastes
like blackberry brandy in hot apple cider;
tastes
like a cashmere sweater sliding over my belly;
tastes
like holding hands with my first crush;
but all I can manage is:
“You taste good.”

I am not a poet.
But, if I were, I would tell you
that your touch burns me like an over-fed log fire;
tell you
that your fingers on my hips sear me like a brand;
tell you
that loving you is as thrilling,
and as terrifying,
as loving a star the moment before it burns out for good.

Too bad I’m not a poet.

 

El arte de las tortillas

A posh man once asked me, “What is art?”
What is art?
Art is the color blue.
Frail and swollen, cutting patterns across my abuela’s hands
beneath her fragile skin.

Art is the color blue, artificial and sticky,
like the tub of Crisco that my abuela is easing down from the cabinet.

“Antes usábamos manteca normal,” she explains
as the blue tub hits the counter with a small “tak.”
“Pero manteca vegetal es lo mejor.”
She taps the clear plastic lid
to drive her point home.
Tak. Tak.

What is art?
“Esto es un arte, mija.”
Abuela says, smiling through her L’Oreal lipstick.
Her hands shake
just a little
as she pours the harina blanca from a paper sack
Into a ceramic bowl.
“Tantito, así.”

Blue veins strain against tissue paper skin,
a flash of blue against soft brown.
An old mug tips water into the bowl,
just enough, never too much.
“Ahora la manteca.”

Bright blue.
Artificial blue,.
Then slippery white.
“Toma.”

The shortening is in my hands before I can say,
“Por favor, no.”
A brown finger taps blue paper.
Tak. Tak.
“Esto es el secreto de las tortillas.”

Esto es el arte.
This is art.

 

El arte de las tortillas (English translation)

A posh man once asked me, “What is art?”
What is art?
Art is the color blue.
Frail and swollen, cutting patterns across my abuela’s hands
beneath her fragile skin.

Art is the color blue, artificial and sticky,
like the tub of Crisco that my abuela is easing down from the cabinet.

“We used to use lard,” she explains
as the blue tub hits the counter with a small “tak.”
“But vegetable shortening—that’s the best.”
She taps the clear plastic lid
to drive her point home.
Tak. Tak.

What is art?
“It’s an art, mija.”
Abuela says, smiling through her L’Oreal lipstick.
Her hands shake
just a little
as she pours the harina blanca from a paper sack
Into a ceramic bowl.
“That much, no more.”

Blue veins strain against tissue paper skin,
a flash of blue against soft brown.
An old mug tips water into the bowl,
just enough, never too much.
“Now the shortening.”

Bright blue.
Artificial blue,.
Then slippery white.
“Here.”

The shortening is in my hands before I can say,
“Por favor, no.”
A brown finger taps blue paper.
Tak. Tak.
“This is the secret to a perfect tortilla.”

Esto es el arte.
This is art.

Muiris and other poems are © Victoria Cosgrove

Victoria Cosgrove is a California-born poet living in Cork. Before settling in Ireland, Cosgrove lived in Spain and the Pacific Northwest where her love for the outdoors, art, and the written word evolved and grew into a full-blown obsession. She earned her MA in Museum Studies from University College Cork, and has worked both in museums and as a field archaeologist, drawing inspiration from the history and stories she encounters.

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