by Dumitru Velea

- What strong smell of rot and garlic
emerges from Sidon and Tire?

Some carve huge pools in stone,
others break the calcareous valve of the shell,
with narrow-holed fishnets, others gather
the small shells of murex from the sea.

Some sharpen the chisels for the stone,
others, the hooks for hollowing the calcareous valve
to extract the soft flesh of the mollusc,
to place it into pools to putrefy, to liquefy.

The huge pools feed on the flesh of the murex,
enormous piles of broken shells,
empty calcareous garments,
tombs for what was most precious

has been extracted. In the pools, the flesh changes
into a yellow juice,badly smelling of garlic.
The purple dyers immerse the white cloth in it
as many times as the colour requires

and they spread it to dry in the sun. The light turns
the yellow from pink into dark violet -
the longer the cloth is exposed to the sun
the deeper the colour.

Some sharpen their lances to penetrate the shield
others, the sword to pierce the helmet,
with invisible hooks others tear our purple
and they pour out the flesh full of blood.

In what huge pools are the blood and the flesh collected?
Which dyers of purple go through the invisible cloth?
Under what light do they display them,
and for what shoulders of emperors and warriors?

Are bags made from our own skin,
do they fill them in with our own blood? But before
processing the thin cloth in it
is our severed head dipped in?

- What strong smell of rot and blood
does emerge from the Waters of the Hellespont?

Translated by Mariana Zavati Gardner

Dumitru Velea

Dumitru Velea's picture

Velea Dumitru was born in 1948. He graduated from the Faculty of Philology Craiova, 1973. UNITER and is a member of the Writers' Union of Romania (Drama Department).

Last updated June 11, 2014