Cornelia Travnicek, Parablue: Conversations with Sylvia




The ground stiffens under her feet
As the reek of cabbage bakes in the sun
Netted in the dog’s eyelashes, an insect,
A rodent’s leg in the dusty lane
Dried to bone, a tuft of fur.
A caterpillar, cradled in a cocoon,
Dangles like wind chimes
And sways, asleep

The dog takes the rabbit’s foot between its jaws, braces it like a stick
Clamping onto it – an offer she can’t refuse

A fox and hare
Have said good night. Little birds of prey perch
In half light. A child stumbles
In the trail of a moth, blind
To the scrap of hair and bone. Dark blue,
The evening spreads out over them. Paraplui
Says her mother: dark blue between the rain
And you. Parablue says the child as she plants
Umbrellas in idyll


Grand View Paliano

Crowns of trees pierce a veil that divides
The view over terraced ground, its edges smoothed
By mist in pastel and gray. Day climbs
Neatly over the hills as little owls
March home, left, left,

Synchronized step, left, right,
Left: the silence of cicadas. Nothing
Stirs in the ghost’s room. Someone sweeps
Sand from the yard, the yard consists only
Of sand, the bread only of yeast-bubbles.

Grass breathes out moisture, it’s
Already hot out. The first horses will be driven
Through the streets in celebration. Here
The esplanade reaches the horizon, and in the other
Direction, the munitions factory gorges itself

On the steel of armaments. At the train station,
The unemployed stand in front of their coffee-
Counters, forty-five percent is the quota here.
The younger ones still showoff unruffled feathers.
They, too, would prefer to produce grenades.



A fountain sinks into yellowed grass. No fence
Lines the property. Imagination tells me
there was once a stable. But the building’s far
Too small. And time can’t touch stone.

The house evenly divides the distance
Between two villages. A toad. No sign of ivy,
No sign of dust on the outer walls
But in the windows, the sway

Of curtains. Where the soul moves.
I want. I want this house. With its mesh of spider webs.
My mother grew up in this house, you say,
And I lift my eyes to the horizon. Your mother

And I. We couldn’t stand each other.



Your face is an accident:
A cheek-bone fracture,
A tooth knocked clean out,
And you yourself were released pending a cure
They’ve lied about. It’ll leave a scar,
The doctor said, hushing up
The wound’s repeated reopening.    

Everyone wants to take a closer look
Until they hear what really happened:
That it was simply not an accident.


(No Image)

Behind him, waves lap on the beach, they even glitter –
A mirror for the sun. They wash up mussels, kelp,
Crabs – a hotpot. Behind it all: a promise. The
Aegean. A perfectly complete scene for his body
To belong to. A few gulls bear up on the wind.
The day mercilessly forms itself in the image
–  no dunes here to obstruct the view –
Of a sleeping child. (Lullaby still in his ear.)
The eyes of Europe look out from Crete.

But innocence falters. His face
Is angled toward the pebble beach.
The sea doesn’t take him back.
His broad brow still arcs unblemished
Over his nose. His lips can find only
Salt for feeding. The surf’s contempt
Strikes the cliffs. Voices raised,
Something about murder.  


Cornelia Travnicek is an Austrian poet and novelist who studied Chinese Studies and Computer Science at the University of Vienna. She works part-time as a researcher in a Centre for Virtual Reality and Visualisation. Her literary works have won numerous awards including the Anerkennungspreis des Landes Niederösterreich, for her debut novel Chucks [Converse] (DVA, 2012), and the Kranichstein Youth Literature Grant awarded by the German Literature Fund. In 2012 she received the audience award at the Tagen der deutschsprachigen Literatur [Festival of German-Language Literature] in Klagenfurt for an extract from her novel Junge Hunde [Young Dogs]. Her publications also include various texts in newspapers, magazines and journals. Her novel Chucks  was filmed in 2015 as an Austrian production.

Meg Matich is a Reykjavik-based poet and Icelandic/German translator, and a current Fulbright grantee. Her translations have appeared in or are forthcoming from PEN America, Exchanges, Words Without Borders, Asymptote, The Best Icelandic Short Stories, Aarhus, and others. In 2015, she received the PEN Heim Translation Fund grant for her translation of Magnús Sigurðsson’s Cold Moons, which is forthcoming from Phoneme Media. She has received grants and fellowships from the DAAD, the Banff Centre, the Icelandic Literature Center, and Columbia University. She is currently assisting with the 2017 Reykjavik Literary Festival.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s