Through mantle, earth, gender, air
through false stories and true
undistracted by pectin, pucker, time
scale, sugar, seed, dripped rainbow of
oil, prism, crushed berry residue, om of home, acid, oxygen song—
I grip jelly jars to my eyes
mock binocular my way to You—
Both of the Tomaž Šalamun poems in this feature come from books published in the early 1970s: “On the border” first appeared in Amerika (1972), and “Trieste” first appeared in Arena (1973). “On the border” demonstrates Šalamun’s newfound engagement with the United States (he was a fellow at Iowa’s International Writing Program from 1971 to 1972), while “Trieste” is set in a city that Šalamun knew well since it is about ten miles from his hometown of Koper.
Malta is a country caught in the crosscurrents: between North Africa and continental Europe; between insularity and a constructive role on the world stage; between prehistoric ruins and the blockchain. Mifsud is the voice of Malta, reflecting the archipelago in its richness, complexity, and contradictions. His is the voice through which the margins question the center; myths of progress are challenged; and the ancient interrogates the present, as in “Ġgantija II.”
The Ġgantija (“Giantess”) temples of Gozo were built during the Neolithic and are thought to be more than 5,500 years old, older than the pyramids of Egypt. They were erected by a people who worshipped a mother figure, a goddess. Awareness of intergenerationality and the unbroken cycles of life takes on a peculiar intensity when all that you have ever been surrounds all that you are in the present — and all you might aspire to become. It is comforting; it is confining. “Ġgantija II” was commissioned for an interdisciplinary event and an excerpt from it, in the Maltese, has been incorporated into a public sculpture on the island of Gozo.