Maria Patakia

Translated from the Greek by Karen Van Dyck

The Postman Died

Because he had no letter to deliver.
I found the time to write it
but not to send it
or rather
I found the words to write it
but no reason to send it.
No intermediary was necessary
I was the final destination
Since in love,
as in fairy tales,
all the characters
(at least two — and usually more)
are one.

So, dear postman,
may you rest in peace.
Besides, usually
the doors you knock on


marked down
– Only a few left to go,
Hurry! – because,
as we all know,
memories get stuck
when swallowed whole
together with the thick peel of loss.

But if you miss it
this time, don’t worry!
Feelings on sale are
ubiquitous these days…
You’ll see:
just scroll down
the Lethe site.

Maria Patakia was born in Athens. She studied Law there and then in Paris. She works in Brussels. A lawyer by trade, an actor for fun, and a poet out of necessity, she divides her time, pursuits and heart between three cities. Her first book of poetry Bimatistes tou chronou (Apace with time) came out from Melani in 2016. She is president of Kyklos, the Greek Cultural Center of Belgium.

Karen Van Dyck teaches at Columbia University. Her writing on Modern Greek poetry and translation has appeared in such journals as the Los Angeles Review of BooksPN Review, and World Literature Today. Her translations include The Scattered Papers of Penelope(Graywolf 2009) and Austerity Measures: New Greek Poetry (Penguin 2016, NYRB 2017) which won the London Hellenic Prize.

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