Carmen Firan
Real Estate

I have a house for sale in a quiet neighborhood
only a couple of steps from hell
—location is everything—
the dead body always exits feet first
and is tempted to run downhill
while the soul gets yanked free through a window
by a well-intentioned grandmother
who sacrificed her day
to show off the banquet high in the heavens
I have a house for sale with new roof and triple-glazed windows,
it comes down to predicting the future
the dead will want perfect isolation
high ceilings to keep cool in the summer
and to give the impression of open space,
the sky a stone’s throw away,
the city the third stop on the express line,
the best yeshiva just around the corner
for quite a while now
I’ve tried to sell the house roof walls and me,
the timing’s bad, my Chinese neighbors suggest
suspicious of the grapevine
which throws black grapes over their fence
mimicking my childhood transplanted into a foreign body,
people are no longer in a rush to buy,
the planet keeps getting warmer,
everything’s growing, enlarging, swelling
we’ll pop like a balloon,
spread throughout the universe
and create other utopias
OK, but in the here and now
I have an old brick house for sale
motionless on the threshold I’m waiting for
buyers from other planets—
please hurry, it’s not even my house

Where colors still have sounds

I’m writing to tell you:
keep away from death
she’ll come again anyway
wrapping her egg
in a nest of bright wires
run as far as you can
every evening around nine
when her finger weighs down
the hand of the alarm clock
another dead weight
this old man a bit to the right,
that woman even farther,
a row of birds on the window ledge
pecking at my heart
she guards your threshold
like a trusty watchdog
lest you lavish too much of yourself on this world
that needs no more than
your name on a sheet of paper
I snap her spine
and flee as far as I can
where colors still have sounds
blind—she helps me cross the street
she knows me by sight
on the other side
a silent black dog sits and waits

-translated by Adam J. Sorkin