the rose :: jean valentine

a labyrinth,
as if at its center,
god would be there—
but at the center, only rose,
where rose came from,
where rose grows—
& us, inside of the lips & lips:
the likenesses, the eyes, & the hair,
we are born of,
fed by, & marry with,
only flesh itself, only its passage
—out of where? to where?

Then god the mother said to Jim, in a dream,
Never mind you, Jim,
come rest again on the country porch of my knees.

“a kiss on the forehead” :: marina tsvetaeva

new versions from the russian by ilya kaminsky and jean valentine
read the translator’s notes

A kiss on the forehead—erases misery.
I kiss your forehead.

A kiss on the eyes—lifts sleeplessness.
I kiss your eyes.

A kiss on the lips—is a drink of water.
I kiss your lips.

A kiss on the forehead—erases memory.

 
1917

friend :: jean valentine

Friend I need your hand every morning
but anger and beauty and hope
these roses make one rose.

Friend I need a hand every evening
but anger and hope and beauty
are three roses
that make one rose.

Let’s fix our bed it’s in splinters
and I want to stay all year.

Let’s fix our bed it’s in splinters
and I want to stay all year.

Did you hear what that woman on Grafton Street was saying?

You won’t be killed today.
We don’t even know we’re born.