Tomaz Salamun Sweet Great Mothers White Hair Anthem

You had a cotton mouth since your birth, a tiny, tiny one.
O lilies that nibbled my hands, pierced my skin
and stripped, changed my veins into the body of another.

Me too, in this world, I rowed up the river already,
crept on the bank in canto twenty-nine, worked out,
swallowed light. It didn’t hurt. Everything was

blessed. I allowed the cracking of nuts, waited in honey
till the heart overgrew them. Changed rails. Let old yellow
trams go where they haven’t been, crunching air a long time.

Human and animal flesh in the dissection room still lets off
screams: love me! still hears bales of wheat, trucks, cranes,
oils, containers grinding and splashing in the harbor.

The bronze floor was boiling. O birds, bringing whales.
Dropping them on the guests’ dark disheveled hair so the apple
burst, the plum burst, the grape burst. The juices mingled,

we became lotuses and little boats leafing through
towns on the water’s surface. We smelled dust, saw
timbers, in the air, in huge fires carrying silt, lime

odor of burned and redeemed flesh, the blaze that made
the same decision as the gentle titmouse or the white skunk
and bolted away. Swam off, swam off as fish with wings

as the jagged mouth. When you breathe in, does the earth remember?
Does it want shifts? Does your gel crack as sweet
molasses? Bruno, still my home and fire. My juice. My sweet womb.

—translated from Slovenian by Joshua Beckman and the author