The Ones Who Don't Belong 5.

Poem By Liāna Langa

A roadside garden queen boards the train Aizkraukle - Riga.
She's wearing rubber boots, a grey moustache
above a chapped mouth.
Carrying a bagful of cucumbers, the roadside garden queen
is exhausted but in her bag are her own grown cucumbers,
a splendid variety.
"Could I have left the rake between the garden rows?" She worries.
Her eyes sink deeper into their hollows as she tries to remember.
The neighbour's dog often comes into her garden to do his business
and, in doing so, tramples her asters, now and then,
the strawberry plants.
The train wagon is not full. Its bedraggled state somehow suits
her rubber boots and sweaty toes shoved in them.
The roadside garden queen suddenly knows that the wagon
and her boots are one and the same. Her legs are
the train's passengers.
The most important thing is that the wagon is very clean.
She has never understood what the words ‘nerves'
and ‘pedicure' mean.
Slender birches race past the wagon windows.
The roadside garden queen notices a student sitting nearby.
In his lap a book. The boy, well-dressed, is catnapping.
The station Gaisma with its piles of coal races by.
The roadside garden queen's eyes crawl out of their hollows
like a squirrel's offspring, beasties dazzled by too much light.
But the old woman continues to gaze at the student
who reminds her of Stephan once-met.
Stephan, a young soldier, taught her three thousand
or so variations of kisses in the woods after a dance.
She recalls the infinity of Stephan's kisses.
Infinity, which tasted of boot black and barrack fare.
The summer days then were much like today: a green,
fragrant gruel, but nights transparent like a black nylon stocking.
The roadside garden queen's lips move.
Cramps in her toes protest against benevolent fate.

Translated by Margita Gailītis

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Other poems of LANGA

The Ones Who Don't Belong 1.

I wake suddenly from deep sleep.
In the forest's undergrowth my shadow roams.
Hundred-thousand-year greedy muzzles suck
moisture clinging to a vessel of mist.

The Ones Who Don't Belong 2.

Leaves frost-bitten by a harsh night rustle between my fingers.
A rook siddles closer
to a cross painted mud-colour. A white pebble thrown against
the cheap granite slab summons an echo

The Ones Who Don't Belong 3.

You say to me - summer? Stop! Too much of glowing flesh, glassy
grey light on eyelids, the odour of decaying melons. Maybe
a movie, ditam, ditam? Dipetti, dipetti, perhaps to the Antarctic?
Don't be angry. Escape heals, but only for a space of time, just until

The Ones Who Don't Belong 4.

Come, life's winter! In a corner of a window ledge a titmouse
pecks at a bit of bacon
whiter than the city's snow. Lemon yellow sunbeam bagpipes
tangle in tree branches sounding funeral marches. Racing clouds

The Ones Who Don't Belong 6.

Farewell, homo mediocris! We dream and sleep still among roe
subtly rose. So slow their movement, so sticky. As if someone
will come shortly to glue our transparent flesh together.
We can do it ourselves! Just the water doesn't permit it,