Translation of “Sappho, 31”

By 
Meaghan Rondeau

Room would like to apologize to Meaghan Rondeau, whose translation of “Sappho, 31” appeared in Room 38.1 without italics as she intended to indicate fragments of real conversation inserted abruptly into the inner monologue of the narrator. Here is her poem with the correct formatting:

Sappho, 31

By all the gods I don’t know why the hell
I come to these things passed defences
farewell parties publications showers house-
swarmings

cohost of tonight’s engagement bride-to-be
Anaktoria reaches into the twilight to find
my hand honey great to see you her eyes blind me
twin suns

clinging to my jostled glass its winedark sea still
rough from the sudden storm of her grasp you too
ears ringing congratulations I stand on blades
of grass

yellow-green hey are you still writing daggers
of despair pin my tongue I still have that poem
you wrote me when we were—he appears just then
like god

when he leans in near for an earful of her
murmured sweet-talk that flirty laughter of hers
the rhythm of my rib-caged heart trips
over itself

trembling in cold sweat I step back torched from within
by subtle flame bones incinerated skin translated
to brittle fragments almost lost to myself
I appear

Translation by Meaghan Rondeau. Meaghan studied classical literature and languages for ten years before deciding enough was enough. Since then she’s been catching up on her non-academic writing. She lives in Vancouver.

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