by Nigar Rafibeyli (1913-1981 )
If I were not a woman
I'd have no dealings
I would meet the dawn on the seashore,
Among the rocks,
And inhale the sea air
By the lungful.
I would stay for hours
In the untold bliss of the beach,
Baring my breast
To the wind of the plains,
To the Absheron gardens.
I feel so heartsore
In this kitchen world,
There is something of a poet in me.
There are poems devoted to sweethearts,
To the flowers of spring,
To the falling leaves of Autumn.
Poems are dedicated to the pain of separation,
To the joy of reunion,
To a woman's sweet face.
Then why are there none devoted
to steam rising from a saucepan,
To a humming samovar?
Why shouldn't there be
Poems about clean dishes
Washed in transparent water?
Some like their food well-salted,
Some like jam,
One cannot tolerate meat,
Another likes his dinner without onions or garlic.
So I must stand there all day,
Wiping, frying, cooking.
Some are destined to occupy high posts,
Others to wash up dishes in the kitchen.
Sometimes an ordinary kitchen
May be cleaner and purer
Than it is in certain high quarters.
If I don't watch out
While onions fry on the gas-stove,
They'll turn into ashes
And dinner will be ruined.
But who's there to see
That the cook burning by the stove
Doesn't turn into cinders?
Who cares for the cook
Whose heart isn't quite tranquil?
Don't grumble, cook,
Don't dare burn the onions
That give taste and flavor to the dinner!
If a flower garden can inspire a poem,
Why can't a kitchen?
Just the same as a flower,
And a grimy saucepan, too,
May ascend to the throne of art.
Poetic themes are countless,
As long as you see the world
With the eyes of a poet.
From the tiny window of my kitchen
I watch the four seasons of the year:
I see their real faces.
A tall poplar
Next to my window
Is gradually covered with buds,
Then leaves appear
And it puts on green apparel.
A light breeze blows,
The branches whisper.
In Spring the tree stands swaying
in all its grandeur.
In Autumn the wind buffets its breast
And with grief it turns yellow.
Then Winter comes and the tree strips bare.
No more greenery to inspire me.
Naked the tree,
Alone with its grief,
Baring its breast to the frost and the cold,
Hoping against hope to survive
With a generous heart,
With a mind that sounds the depths of existence,
Your dreams will not die,
Your thoughts will not fade.
If there is a divine light in your soul,
Hold it up as a torch
And from your tiny kitchen
You will be able to see the great world.
From "Azerbaijanian Poetry," edited by Mirza Ibrahimov, Progress Publishers, Moscow. No date [Probably late 1970s]. Translated by Dorian Rottenberg
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