What Cannot Be Weighed & Sitting Out in the Rain


Yannis Ritsos

What Cannot Be Weighed

Those who are left await their turn.
Mihalis gone, Stratis gone, Meletis,
Sotiris gone at 40. The mule-drivers
come down from the villages, their carts
loaded up with watermelons. Right in the street,
they plop them on the scales and weigh them.
"Poor crop," they say-and prices go up.
And old Stathis sits on his porch, oblivious,
gazing off at the ocean and chuckling to himself.
All this measuring and comparing-what's the use?
As if you could ever know the weight of things.
"Fresh watermelons," they shout, "ready for the knife!"
The mules doze in the heat, swishing their tails.
--Karlovasi 7-28-87

(Translated from the Greek by Martin McKinsey)

Sitting Out in the Rain

The first rains are here. The wet horses
stand under the trees in their autumn dotage.
Their eyelids droop as they pretend to chew
a mouthful of dry grass. Maria wanted
to use her own comb on their wet manes. But
the last of the summer people were already leaving.
A hen clucked lewdly nearby. How sad it was watching
the hungry sparrows hop through the stripped vineyard,
the clouds changing shape overhead, flying apart despite
the crows like black tacks, holding them in place.
Thus, in a matter of hours, Maria grew old.
Karlovasi 8-28-87

(Translated from the Greek by Martin McKinsey)


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