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International Reflective Writing


Luljeta Lleshanaku

Luljeta Lleshanaku

Luljeta Lleshanaku grew up under house arrest in totalitarian Albania. Born in 1968, she wasn’t allowed to go to college or publish her poetry until the early 1990s, after the Communist government fell. But her gentle poems are subtle and rarely polemical, as they dwell on her past.

Twilit melancholy suffuses her Albania, where “Soft rain falls like apostrophes in a conversation between two worlds,” family trees are “struck down by a bolt of lightning,” and most days echo with “a gray metallic loneliness.” These details coalesce to paint the Albania of her internal exile and, in the end, we feel blessed that Ms. Lleshanaku has invited us to “the takeoffs and landings/on the runway of her soul.”

Source: In Media Universe, Poetry’s Small Planet By DANA JENNINGS, Published: July 22, 2010, New York Times:


Yearly Snow

In this city the yearly snow
leaning on sparse, lonesome trees
doesn't mean a thing.
It signifies nothing more
than the meandering of a veteran
leaning on a wooden crutch.
The same war story told a hundred times
the same brand of cigarette distributed by friendly hands
and those same eyes hovering, dark and lazy.
Only that. And the dry rhythmic knocking
until his silhouette disappears
amidst the shadows cast down by rooftops
their melting snow dripping
in terrible slowness...

translated from the Albanian by Henry Israeliand Albana Lleshanaku

Shadows on the Snow

The snow comes late this year. Violet shadows
doze like shepherds round
a white fire.
The swaying shadow of a fence looks like a woman's clavicle-
a woman who dreams of her lover's snowy journey home,
his late return.
Thin trails lead to the doorway.
A car parked for hours
compresses black earth.
Radio signals float just out of earshot.
A boat with its eel fishers
in luminous raincoats skims by.
A child-his little hand trembling-
casts slanting trees across the table.
The choir kneels.
The moment has come to speak
in a voice I have never known before.
I raise my head and see a single star in the night sky,
shapeless and fearful like the shard of a broken bottleneck,
a star I have for years foolishly followed.
Perhaps the shadow of our infinite persistence
looks to someone else like a large hump
on the Moon
a camel bent over a puddle
preparing for a new stretch of thirst.

Read more:

It’s Not Time For . . .

It's not time for a change.
As long as I can remember
it's never been time for a change.
Like cars that screech to a halt
houses stand
poised in their old breeding ground
of rotten acacia leaves.From ribs that bulge
like knots on a bundle of wet ropes
a faint voice arises, crying, "choose!"
Choose between memory and that peculiar stench. . . .
Choose between clouds and earth.
I tremble like a tree
in a winter storm.
I wait. I don't understand but I wait.
I let life happen, leave the porch lamp lit
through the night
until the clattering of a milk van
in the empty evening street
until pillows are abandoned like salt pits
after a season of low tides.



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