In Albanian, a living room is a “friends’ room,”
and in this house there is only one windowless room
with a single wooden door to the outside.
This is how they’ve always built here,
you’re happy to tell me:
for fear of strangers and bloodletting. Even today
the world is sly and cruel,
life a hostile environment. Yet in the middle of the room
a fire burns, black coffee steams and boils.
You pour, glance and see: night won’t be
an island of sleep. Four will lie down on this floor—
your brothers, and you , and my body (from the four winds
I alone was meant to arrive in this remote village).
There’ll be no rest in the friends’ room, just
a bit of comfort and we’ll go on our way;
the nights piling exhausted around us
won’t quiet our blood.
Translated from Hebrew by Lisa Katz