“Epitaph,” by Kiki Dimoula

“One per cent of every kiss given,
each one without exception, consists
of eternity
and all the rest the risk
it may be the last.”

Even if it’s the last
it will be called a kiss all the more

at least as long
as memory on one hand
and oblivion on the other
pull it about
each claiming it for its own

until Solomon the just
to reveal whose it is
threatens to divide it
giving half to one, half to the other

and every time one of the two
—never the same one—
screams “don’t.”

Every kiss
consists entirely of the risk
it may be the last.
Only the kiss never given
remains everlasting.
Wisely, peacefully it’s shared
by expectation and renunciation,

two rival flowers
in one resigned vase
adorning a cenotaph.

Translated by Cecille Inglessis Margellos and Rika Lesser

Kiki Dimoula was born in Athens in 1931 and published her first book of poems in 1956. She is the third woman ever to be inducted into the Academy of Athens.

Read more Kiki Dimoula here.


Excerpted from The Brazen Plagiarist , by Kiki Dimoula, in the Margellos World Republic of Letters series, published by Yale University Press. Copyright © 2012 by Kiki Dimoula. Reprinted by permission. For more information, www.margellosworldrepublicofletters.com

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