Poetry by Debora Vogel in translation by Anastasiya Lyubas

Still Life in Glass

Between two white gray bulging scales of the world

Hangs glass fruit of space

with white creased paper kernel

of a stiff angular sun.


Every day the white kernel sits in the flesh of glass,

bodies revolve, with faces like cool flat panes

and glass birds come and go, like lumps of identical days.

First dusk. Second gloaming.


Until a colorless flat rectangle of sound falls

out of the glass containers of bodies:

like a long sigh of glazen shards.


Now all encounters sound monotonous:

like spheres of colorless glass,

like flat panes of liquid glass.


Like a long sigh of cool glass.


Still Life in Cold

Half a year

days are in green twilight

as in Flemish paintings of green cold.


Half a year

nights drag on for twelve hours.

Long like bodiless days.


The day is glass-colored length

divided into two halves

by a flat red circle.


Between four gray walls of the world-rectangle

Board-like bodies rise

flat wooden logs on two feet.

Every twelve hours


nothing more happens

in the glass rectangle

with yellow stars, white stars.


Faces become flat panes-

colorless glass quadrangles like days.


And dull-wooden watery-yellow four sides:

pieces of flat boards, like wooden-yellow nights.


Still Life with Seagulls

Out of the fragrant lead of sea, which ebbs and flows

countless times

Between two suns—


round grayness сomes over seven days.

Seven days: seven gray pearl beads.

Falling one by one: the first bead and the seventh.


Gray paper shells of seagulls

Ebb. Flow. Ten times in a row.

Twenty times.


With the dawning of the dawn

until the dusk.


With a cry, so round

and monochrome-gray like a bead of a day.


How can yellow star roll every day

How can blue waves and shells of seagulls flow

and people lift their legs

when every day is a single bead

floating on the surface seven times a week.

Debora Vogel was a Polish-Jewish writer, philosopher, art critic, and translator. She was a “wandering star” of Polish and Yiddish Modernisms in Eastern Europe and North America, her writing being comparable to Gertrude Stein’s in its striking originality. Born in Lviv, she was educated in Vienna and Kraków, and travelled extensively in Paris, Berlin and Stockholm, which is reflected in her work.

Anastasiya Lyubas is a PhD student in the Department of Comparative Literature in Binghamton University where she is currently at work on her dissertation “Language and Plasticity in Debora Vogel’s Poetics.” She got her MA in Translation Studies in Binghamton in 2014 with the help of the Fulbright grant. Lyubas is a 2017-2018 translation fellow at the Yiddish Book Center, and a Max Weinreich research fellow in YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York.

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