by Immanuel Mifsud

I saw the fresh water running among the trees,
carrying the remains of my mother.
From afar they were carried:
by the frosty wind that blew over her grave,
by the shearwaters searching for a foreign land,
by happy dolphins,
by strong waves,
by icy rivers crossing mountains
and resting for a while in valleys.

The fresh water runs gracefully among the trees
which waited centuries for my coming.
And when I arrived to greet the fresh water approaching,
I saw it had brought me the remains of my mother:
her bones, and her hair,
her blue dress with white motifs;
bits and pieces from her coffin —
for a hundred lira we had bought it —
now bearing some dizzy worms which had been feasting upon her.

While bathing my feet in this fresh running water,
against my bare skin the remains begin rubbing,
till they all gather gently to rest just below me —
looking me straight in the eye.
I’m not sure if they understand my smile:
whether they think it’s pleasure,
or whether they take it as a sign that the end is near
and it’s summoning me
to slide into the water.

Translated from Maltese by Maite Xerri Rosas



Immanuel Mifsud is from Malta and has published a number of prose books and poetry collections. In 2011 he won the European Union Prize for Literature with his book In the Name of the Father (and of the Son) which to date has been translated into five languages.