Galsan Tschinag

 

All the Paths

Around Your Yurt

 

 

Poems

 


Translated by Richard Hacken
From Galsan Tschinag, Alle Pfade um deine Jurte
(Frauenfeld, Switzerland: Waldgut Verlag, 1995)


 

Blueness

 

Yearning for you

Deposits blueness

At my extremities

Infecting me with you

Finger by finger

You withdraw from your land

That grows on grayness

 

Accustomed grasses

Sprout in you

Deadly to your roots

I see the day not far off

When you will have to swim

Against the stream

 

The hour of your arrival

On my steppe

Sets the time

Of our beginning

 

 



The Moon

 

The moon

Cast its white scarf

To you

Casually you

 

Grabbed it

Like a tossed bouquet

And wrapped yourself

In one end

 

The churning ocean of stars

And I

Watched

The moon

Waste its luxury on you

 

We cringed

In solemn shock

To see

Your two small sparrows

Hop from their nest

 

But breathed easier

As you cast the scarf

Aside

 



 

Words Live In You

 

Words live in you

That are wind

I am the land expanse

Where you release them

 

At times a breeze

Blows out of you

Spreading my pathways

With your honey

 

At other times a storm

Rips loose

Breaking over me

And the timid grasses

Along the slope from me to you

Quiver


 


 

Desolate The Day

 

Desolate the day

Gray the hour

In the midst of long winter

Pale warmth glides

Across the fibers of my heart

 

I know itís you

Blowing across

From the still smoldering fire

I set in you

 

Let your being here

Force again to the mountaintops

This slouched body

That grovels on the ground

A wick

For the flame of many lives

Depending on it

 



 

Nightfall Signals

 

Nightfall signals

Our search for each other

We make thieves of ourselves

While the stars

Look for us elsewhere

Since they know our proper place

The person everyone seeks out

Is always

A stranger

Blank and endless

The night hones us

On each other

 

Remaining two halves

We smolder out

 

 



Where Mine Is Where Yours Is

 

Where mine is where yours is

I donít know anymore

We live in each other

 

I do know

When and where we began

And this as well:

Never will we end

So long as weíre with each other

 



 

 

Letter

 

The full moon is

My letter to you

 

The longing

I suffer

Could very well

Be the excuse

For its frenzied

Fullness

 

Just cause for you

To catch the contagion

 

 



Message

 

I accept partial blame

For the Altai wind

That came searching for you

Seven sun-hours distant

In your castle

The one never stormed

Successfully by anyone yet

I had made a prior pact

With the night

That she would incubate

The overflowing shimmer-sheen of stars

And hatch the coming dayís blue

Into wind

 

Then I watched

As the wind swept

Full-blown across the twitching flank

Of the steppe

Igniting itself on the rustling sparks

Of the grass forest

 

I blessed it as

Sharpened on fragments

Of earthly wishes

It blew

My heavenly dream

Your way

 

 



Quietly I Pulled The Door

 

Quietly I pulled the door

Shut behind me

 

May the peace in your house

Continue

When I return

As early as tomorrow or

Not for a hundred years

 



 

Close Your Eyes

 

Close your eyes

And watch

As we both

Rise up from two horizons

Filling the void

Approach each other

Flow into each another

And in the midst of eternity

Come to a standstill

 

 


 

Without Cease The Time-Storm

 

Without cease the time-storm

Has blasted away our embers

Carrying with them the veil

Of fairytale lore

To expose

The encrusted nakedness of two lives

 

Tall and heavy

Our bodies

Lie extinguished

Now

Double the defeat

On two shoulders

Next to each other

Long deaf

To each other

 

 



Your Name

 

Your name is the magic key

To the gates of my universe

Even the unwelcome

Could use it as a password

 

It sits enthroned

Between Altai and Mother

 

In the light of this three-star constellation

All inflicted injury

Would heal itself

 

With six letters

Just as my own name

It rolls me

Like dice

Between three states of time

And has me live

Without yesterday or tomorrow

 

 



Our Love Capsized

 

At the hour we capsized

You flowed from me

I was

The empty vessel

In which misery

Howled

 

 



Swaying

 

Swaying

You stagger from the house

Sleeplessness sits

Like a thousand ants

Under your eyelids

But you glow

Transforming each ant

Into a tiny sun

The neighbor lady calls over

To say how good you look today

 

 


 

Leaving You

 

Leaving you

Iíve left myself

Behind

Though the cup

Of tea is cold

The trace

Of my lips will

Keep it warm

When once again you

Come to the concept of

Separation

Whether our lips

Kiss again

Or not

Is left to you

You can pour

The tea out

And wash

The cup

But it will

Always be

The one

I drank from

My smell is

In the room

And my light

In the mirror

From which your

Image each morning

Inspects you

My heat is

Still there too

In each of your pores

A tiny sun

 

 


 

Thinking Of You

 

Thinking of you

I see

A hundred buds

Open up

On the tree between us

 

Now I know

Why a moaning sound

Escaped the valley of glaciers

When I rolled

All the paths

Around your yurt

Into my overalls

To keep them

Away from others

 

Thanks to you

I fly

Into the wind and

Always land before the day began

 

So I stay

Young and igneous

As on the first morning

 



 

Iím Going To Sleep

 

Iím going to sleep

Come to me, my wife

Let us meet

Where our young years

Lie enshrouded in time fog

Where the first steppe night

Untouched

Awaits us still

 

 



 

The Storm Shrills And Cuts

 

The storm shrills and cuts

Across the blade of silence

Between our crossing stars

 

I wait and fume and know

In one of the coming hours

I too will rise up as a storm

Mow down

The forest of contenders in your soul

Break into your heart

And barricade myself

There

 

 



Wanting to Hope

 

Wanting to hope

But not quite believing

You were thinking of me

Your call came

A laser of light

That lanced out

The eye of a needle

Through my

Deaf-blind breast

Now I am the needle

Pulling amber thread

Through heavy fog

To stitch together

Gaping wounds of the day

 

 



 

All Night

 

All night I

Was flowing to you

Without knowing

If you were the sea

To receive me

 

Daylight peeks in

Over the camp

Of my emotions

Your look bounces

Off mine

 

Now at least I live

With an answer

 

 


 


I Watched

 

I watched

As the stars come swimming

In the river to frolic

Their luscious laughter rose

As silver dust to the skies

And burned all night

At the other end of the ladder

That once lifted you and me

From earth

 

 


 


Your Ice-Gray Eyes

 

Your ice-gray eyes turned fluid

As they looked through me

Toward our parting

I knew

I would dream of you

When glaciers melt

And grass-green winds

Of the mountain steppe

Blow in circles

Around my soul

Still aching from the look

In your eyes

 

 



 

You Are Salt Water

 

You are salt water

Etching inside my heart sac

You spread like acid

To surrounding tissue

Night after night

Crazy with anguished ecstasy

I want to hollow myself

Into a chasm

For you to rage in

River of my tormented delights

 

 


 


Twentieth of December

 

Twentieth of December

Still no snow

We are molded like clay into each other

And into the years worn down but

Indestructible as two wagonloads of stone

Rolling along behind us

 

The time ahead

Will come straight at us

With or without snow and will

Extend into even more years

We will need to tamp them down

Under the ponderous load

Of the annual past

That holds us down night after night under ridged rubble

Where two avalanches meet

 

 


 


Within Easy Range

 

The lake was raging and rasping at your feet

As you stood gazelle-like by the steep shore

And looked into a distance without structure or end

It seemed you were taking leave of a world

That had lain at your feet

And thus had held you captive

 

Within easy range I stood behind you

Your new hunter, loaded with storm

At first snow I had appeared

And sworn before your eyes

Under the heavens

To heal all wounds from arrows

Other than my own

 

 


 


As Long As You Are There

 

As long as you are there

The waves of light

From your corner of the compass

Will never stop pouring across

To flood my steppe

 

As long as you are there

The shrub with its

Swarming sparrows will continue to blossom

And morning after morning the avian childhood

Like a hundred red splinters of sunlight

Will twitter towards me

When I step from my yurt

 

As long as you are there

The child in me will

Stoutly stave off the prince

To conjure up new fairytales

With you

 

 



 

You Lie There

 

Leaping heart of my yurt

You lie there

Wide awake and listening

To the crisp silence outside

While I

At this late hour

On the other end

Of night

Trample the grass

Mow the steppe and

Smooth the path

Toward day

So that it might again and again

Be ours

 



 

 

Do Not Come Too Close

 

Do not come too close

To me

Little mare

Within me is also

A stallion

The prince charming

Was your invention

 



 

 

Be Just as Quiet and Still, Child

 

Quietly the glacier breeze saunters

Across the steppe

Cooling its smoldering bowels

Silence nests in the traces

Of the passing day

 

Be just as quiet and still, child

And open up to the fairytale

Just beginning

 

Cast your eyes on starry skies

We are entitled to this much light

Until the end of our journey

Which has to stand

Against a world

That you and I

Shattered and splintered

 

 



 

Autumn Is Still Here

 

As little could I keep a grasp on summer

As I can obstruct the winter

 

Beyond the bare branches

Scratching the sky like bony fingers

I see it coming

Autumn is still here

 

Yellow-toned winds tussle over fallen leaves

The lights meant for you

Spin back and forth

Awakening words in me

That should have been said long ago

 

On a limb

The last leaf still hangs

Whipping and raging

 

 


 

 

Another Thing I Forgot to Tell You

 

Another thing I forgot

To tell you

The blue yak cow

Gave birth to twins

The calves were quaking

When I found them in the snow

Two sets of large wet eyes

Looked at me

As their gazes crossed

I thought of you

And of the woman who

Brought the message

From you

With eyelids just as long and heavy

As your own

 

 



 

I Wanted To Share A Word

 

I wanted to share a word

With you as you left

Except it was defiled

And so

I scratched it

From my vocabulary to you

 

Come to my great yurt, the steppe

With its blue shadows and yellow winds

And look in the eyes

Of a camel

Separated from its mare

 

There it lives

 

 


 

 

Love Song in Shamanic

 

The body

You call yours

Belongs to me

The soul

Inhabiting it

Belongs to me

 

The heat

Streaming

From your body

And the light

From your soul

Belong to me

 

The night is my realm

The ways and paths

That it takes

Are the arteries

Through which my wild blood

Storms

 

Whenever you

Burn for another

I will be there

 

For I am

The mighty one

With power

To appear

At inconvenient hours

And spoil

Your faithless flirting

 

I am the dagger in your heart

I am the eye at the nape of your neck

The callus

Between you

And the world of men

 

 



 

Monologue of a Nomad Woman Staying Behind

 

Above the wreath of roof

The morning yellows

 

One last time

You can storm at me and

Blow

Against departure

About to come

 

The three hundred sixty wall-post eyes

Will be your witnesses

To the happiness

You gave me

And the sixty-four roof braces

Will protect me

From the gaze of strangers

And other storms

I will remain

Wick of your yurt

Burning down for the sake of light and heat

Incinerating to the end

 

 


 

 

Snowstorms Drift

 

Snowstorms drift

Across the steppe and

Cover your tracks

 

Raging as loudly drugged

As nights

Fogged in manic fever

 

And blowing apart gently, softly

Beyond the mountains

That no longer matter to you

 

Melancholy soft

I try to wrap myself

In memory

 

In order not to hear

Not to hear the hour

That struck long ago

 

 


 

 

Your Eyes

 

The lake has gone wild

Rising up

And crashing to blinding light

I wish

That you would rage too

But your eyelashes stand high

Suspended over two tears frozen

Into ice drops

 

How could I ever die out

As long as these eyes are in me

Two dots from your heaven

 

 



 

 

In The Middle Of Winter

 

In the middle of winter

I wake from autumn dreams

And flow resistance-free

Into the course of things

The waning sickle moon

I see

Bending more and more

Beneath your silence

And must understand

You are a leaf on the

Tree Iíve dreamed

Just as autumn itself

Was a dream

 

 


 


The Light of Dawn Feels Its Way

 

The light of dawn feels its way

Across the swaying grass

And arrives at the two of us

Who, body to body

Tightly woven wick of the steppe

Were awake all night

 

The day searching for its soul

Ignites itself on us

And as proof

Of an autumn nightís happiness

The rime frost

Lies in splinters behind us

 

 



 

The Snow Has Fallen

 

The snow

We both

Saw coming

At the other end of earth

Has fallen

And icy torrents

Rage across the storm

 

The steppe

That we dreamed yellow-soft as butter

Sprawls frozen and petrified

The howling of the winds

Mingles with that of wolves

And both are meant for us

 

Scissor blades

Of wish and reality

Stretch wide to snap shut on us

Relentless time pushes us

To the cutting edge

 

 



 

A Coffin Of Words

 

Laid out in a coffin of words

My melancholy passes on

To you

The tart fruits

Of your carelessness

Are ripe for plucking

 

 



 

Gentle Power

 

You find me soft

You could be right

Like water I seep

Into you and fill

Every corner of your hollow spaces

 

Yet beware

In me resides

A perilously gentle power

If you freeze me

I will make you burst

 

 


 


Former Foliage

 

Former foliage

Torn from my own tree

I flew through world after world

A hundred years must have passed

Bare and eaten hollow

By the worms of loneliness

Now Iíve landed in you

Sprouting against the sharp edge of time

Soon to be a bud

And dreaming as ever

Of becoming a leaf again

 

 


 

 

New Beginning

 

Sparrows fall from the tree

Like leaves in a firestorm

Flaming at me and

Setting me ablaze

 

The bread is warm to the touch

And steams the scent of wheat

Where the sun

Of a single summer is stored

 

I abandon my horse

Long saddled

Standing at the crossroads

 

You have entered me

 

 


 

 

The Night Expresses Itself Obscurely

 

The night expresses itself obscurely

Just as you always do

Whenever a decision is involved

 

The moon is waxing

So why the nicks

On its gibbous axe blade

And where the pair of stars

That blazed at each other

Autumn long

From two rims of the sky

 

I see

That for one more day I will

Live without news from you

 

 


 


I Move Crossways Through Your Worlds

 

I move crossways through your worlds

Painting you on the shimmering cities

And singing you into the open spaces between

This is the way I freshen the aged

Crumbling world to wakefulness

The train of time, ready to roll

Hesitates thanks to you

For just a bit longer

 

 



 

Evensong

 

In me sits

The infinite fatigue

Of the finiteness

Of a life that came

Flying at me

 

The river that

Flowed

Wildly through me

Split at the corners

Of this world

And lies

Tamed and peaceful

In a pond

 

Stranded

Now I must

Grind

Myself against foreign winds

With my own salt

Into a stone of wisdom

 

 



 

Lichen Of The Ages

 

Lichen of the ages

Grew and multiplied on us

As we flew at each other

Set loose by hands in which we

Found no warmth

We were two chips of firewood

Each kindling the other

Two stones

Each grinding the other

Four-handedly we tore to scraps the flap of felt

That hung opaquely

Over the entrance to our remaining years

As one mind we opted for

Double cremation

So that our fire

Could give birth to a legend

 



 

 

The Forest Sways And Shrieks

 

The forest sways and shrieks

The storm-flames

Raging in it

Must mean me

I know of deeds unpunished

That extend

Along my years

Disguised

In the light-shadow of fame

 



 

 

I Refuse to Answer

 

I refuse to answer

Questions

That shamefully undercut

My caliber

The tranquil mind of the nomad

Must be silent in the presence of those

Who chatter about cleverness

But mean to say deceit

 

 


 

 

Shore

 

I have streamed around the world

There is no lake

For me to flow into

So now I stream back

And flow into you

Your patient skin bundles

The foaming madness tightly

You are my shore

O mother

 

 



 

Remorse

 

I see you

Reading my letter

I hear you

Choking with tears

I know you

Dying a short season of your life

That I, crumpled like a scrap of paper

Allowed to pass in front of me

 

So why did I not

Die the great death myself

So why am I not dying now

After surviving your hard, short death

By my terrible, long life

 



 

 

Night Is My Hope

 

Night is my hope

Since by day

You belong to others

If even some bureaucracy

So I grope in the darkness

For you

Feeling my way forward

Bumping against marble

That rests with unquestionable solidity

The imprint of a seal

At each sliced end

Of its threads

 

 

 



 

At Your Side

 

At your side I live lightly

Kin to the sun fire

I burn and radiate unsparingly

To all

In need of light and warmth

 

At your side I rise up frothing

Against the years

Pressing down on me

I divert the stream of time

And drift to my beginnings

 

At your side I am a child

Willful

Free game for others



Richard Hacken, European Studies Bibliographer,
Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA.
Comments, corrections and suggestions are welcome: hacken @ byu.edu