Ballad of the Moon, Moon
El aire la vela, vela.
El aire la está velando.
A pettelengra boy whacks petalos on his anvil.
The moon slides into his smithy, bright as a borì.
The boy can not stop himself staring. The moon
releases her arms in flames of flamenco,
her sweet dress slipping from one shoulder.
‘Nash nash, choon, nash nash, choon, choon.
If the Rom catches you he will splice your zi.
He will smelt your souk for miriklè and vongustrì.’
The moon smiles, ‘Chavvo, let me kur my kellipen.
By the cherris the gyppos come, they will find you
poggadi on the anvil with your biddi yokkers lelled’.
‘Nash nash, choon, nash nash, choon, choon
Run for it, moon, run away, moon, fair moon.
I can hear the hooves of my horse masters hammering.’
‘Chavvo, muk me be. Don’t pirro upon my pawni
ringi so rinkana’. The drumskin of the plains thrums
with hoof-strokes. The boy backs across the smithy.
Horse masters hove through the night-tree
a forest in slow motion, bronze and dream.
Bronze and dream are the Roma their eyes sky-high,
their gaze lances through walls of world and smithy.
But the moon dances her prey to the snare of a mirror.
She hauls the pettelengra o kolè dyoonaste to the pliashka.
The gypsies ride at her trailing veils, her mokkadi doovàki.
The wind whips by, wraps the moon in her purlènta.
It wraps that bride, the moon, the moon, barval, bevvali!
Romani: pettelengra: blacksmith; petalos: horseshoes; borì: bride; nash: run away!; choon: moon; Rom: Romanies; zi: heart, souk: soul; miriklè: necklaces; vongustrì: rings; Chavvo: boy; kur my kellipen: do my dancing; cherris: time; poggadi; broken; biddi: tiny; yokkers: eyes; lelled: locked up; muk: let/allow; pirro: tread; pawni: whiteness; ringi: dressed; rinkana: spruce; o kolè dyoonaste: beyond, in the other world; pliashka: Romani ceremony before wedding; purlènta: silk headkerchief; mokkadi: dirty; doovàki: veil; barval, bevvali: wind.
This poem was first published in Modern Poetry in Translation and will appear in The Gypsy and the Poet (Carcanet, 2013). David Morley will be reading at Romani Literature, Identity… and You, a charity benefit by Trafika Europe to support the European Roma Rights Centre, on Sunday, 16th June 2013, 7pm at Conway Hall, London WC1R 4RL.