Poem: Menna Elfyn, translated by Robert Minhinnick

English translation below by Robert Minhinnick

 

EXIT

 

1

Yn blentyn, ni ddeallwn y llythyren X,
ai Crist yn cario ei groes ar oledd oedd?

Wedyn, ei weld fel llythyren ddieithr–
llifolau uwchben y gair lle cuddiai

nefoedd anwel a chartref Duw
lawr ar y lôn a wenai’n rasol at lewyrch sgrin.

A chyn i’r ffilm droi’n fendith, byddai rhai
yn ei gloywi hi, heb gilwg yn ôl .

A thra byddai rhai’n dewis y drws tenau–
ffoaduriaid ar wasgar heb wybod eu cyrchfan,

synhwyrwn mai’r X a rodd ganiatâd
i ni ddiflannu, rôl clecian ein seddau.

11

Alllanfa—cerais ei fod
yn pelydru gobaith , y dôr drwyadl

nes deall mai myfi oedd ceidwad
yr awyren, yn waredwr wrth ddrws

wedi holwyddoreg a own yn heini?
Estyn gweddi a wnes na ddoi’r alwad

na’r un ecsodus o’r ffurfafen,
a’m profi yn wrth-arwres.

Yr eicon coch, gwared y gwirion,
ofnusrwydd yn reddf sy’n X bob cam

yn groes ar dro, ac yno, dychmygwn
ing yn yr awyr, heb ddihangfa.

111

Nawr, yn y lle hwnnw sy’n X i bawb
Croes ymgroes i rywun, daw’r suon

Yn ôl im wrth wylio un yn ymadael
drwy’r porth ochr, yr allanfa

hwnnw lle nad oes dychwelyd.
Angau yw’r groes sy’n hongian

uwchben mor ddilychwin ei X,
wrth in ganu’n anfoddog am y sawl

a sleifiodd allan , a chyn in adael mae’n bygwth
glaw a ddaw i sisyrnu XXX yr holl ffordd adre.
 

EXIT

Translated by Robert Minhinnick

 

1

When I was a child I never understood X.
Maybe X was Christ carrying his cross askew?

Then I thought X an alien letter *
and the Exit’s neon was hiding

heaven where God lived
down that beam of light that lit the screen.

But before any film finished some of us
scarpered without glancing back;

and while seeking light through a side door
others scattered like refugees,

sensing X permitted us
to tip our seats and escape.

2

That exit was a dazzling
azimuth, fateful door.

It was little me led the charge to deliverance.
We must be fit, I prayed, which is how

I thought God would wish to welcome us.
In every film (except the scary ones)

I was the saviour of an unruly tribe
and between myself and that mysterious door

glowed a red icon.
Anxiety’s the story of my life,

as yes, it was I urged exodus through perplexing
dark, dreading someone might smell fire.

3

Now, in the Crematorium’s surround-sound
all the Xs come whispering back

as we watch a loved one depart
through a side door, that exit

from which there’s no return.
Death is the cross that hangs above

and immaculate is its X
as we sing to the one who has just slipped out,

and then depart through threat of rain,
X scissoring us away.

 

 

*there is no x in the Welsh language

 

Menna Elfyn is the author of 13 poetry collections in Welsh by Gomer Press, and bilingual collections by Bloodaxe who will be publishing her next collection Bondo Feb, 2018.

Robert Minhinnick’s second novel, ‘Limestone Man’, appeared from Seren in 2015.

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