The Most Handsome Man on Earth

by Danae Sioziou | trans. Panagiotis Kechagias

If grandpa hadn’t been the most handsome man on Earth

maybe I wouldn’t have fallen in love with him at first sight

and if I hadn’t fallen in love with him maybe disaster wouldn’t have struck

if he hadn’t thought I had taken after his gaze

as he had proudly declared on the day of my birth

maybe I wouldn’t have inherited his eyes and his strong heart

his taste in hats and women

and maybe he wouldn’t have postponed for five years his death

if I had been a boy maybe he would have made me, too, solve mathematical problems

instead of teaching me good manners, how to climb, the reasons for loving the piano

and if he had known I understood he would have never told me

all those bitter stories he thought I’d forget

if my grandpa hadn’t been this brave and handsome man

with his strong legs climbing and fixing

up and down the Earth until his last breath

maybe he, too, would have grown a mustache as a statement

maybe he would have become a bigamist, birthed more children

we’d have completely lost track

if he had had a rough heart and soft hands, meaning the reverse

maybe he wouldn’t have let me to jump up and down on his bed

caress his belly

maybe he wouldn’t have had a fear of surgery

and we’d have lived happily ever after

if grandpa hadn’t been one of those

who crossed the borders

our graves now elsewhere ravaged

if he hadn’t danced, if he hadn’t  made cream for dessert,

if he had gotten stingy over the rides in the amusement park or the bicycle

he wouldn’t have been my first love

and my first death

he wouldn’t have been the most handsome man on Earth

I would now have a hope

listen to the author read the poem in Greek

Ο ωραιότερος άντρας στη γη

previously published in Useful Children’s Games (Antipodes Editions, 2016)

Αν ο παππούς δεν ήταν ο ωραιότερος άντρας στη γη
ίσως να μην τον είχα ερωτευτεί με την πρώτη ματιά
και αν δεν τον είχα ερωτευτεί ίσως το κακό να μην είχε γίνει.
Αν δεν πίστευε πως έχω το βλέμμα του
όπως περήφανα είχε διακηρύξει τη μέρα της γεννήσεώς μου
μπορεί να μην είχα κληρονομήσει τα μάτια και τη δυνατή του καρδιά
το γούστο του στα καπέλα και στις γυναίκες
κι εκείνος να μην είχε αναβάλει για  πέντε χρόνια το θάνατό του
αν ήμουν αγόρι ίσως να με έβαζε κι εμένα να λύνω μαθηματικά
αντί να μου μαθαίνει καλούς τρόπους, πώς να σκαρφαλώνω, γιατί αγαπάμε το πιάνο
και αν ήξερε πως καταλαβαίνω δεν θα μου είχε πει ποτέ
όλες εκείνες τις πικρές ιστορίες που πίστευε πως θα ξεχάσω
αν ο παππούς μου δεν ήταν αυτός ο γενναίος και όμορφος άντρας
με τα δυνατά πόδια που σκαρφαλώνει και επιδιορθώνει
πάνω κάτω στη γη ώς την τελευταία του πνοή
ίσως να είχε και αυτός μουστάκι από άποψη
ίσως να διπλοπαντρευόταν, να έκανε κι άλλα παιδιά
να χάναμε τελείως το λογαριασμό
αν είχε τραχιά καρδιά και μαλακά χέρια δηλαδή ανάποδα
ίσως  να μη με άφηνε να χοροπηδάω στο κρεβάτι του
να του χαϊδεύω την κοιλιά
ίσως  να μην είχε φόβο χειρουργείου
και να ζούσαμε εμείς καλά
αν ο παππούς δεν ήταν ένας από αυτούς
που πέρασαν τα σύνορα
οι δικοί μας τάφοι τώρα ρημαγμένοι αλλού
αν δεν χόρευε, δεν έφτιαχνε σαντιγί για επιδόρπιο
τσιγκουνευόταν το λούνα παρκ ή το ποδήλατο
δεν θα ήταν ο πρώτος μου έρωτας
και ο πρώτος μου θάνατος
δεν θα ήταν ο ωραιότερος άντρας στη γη
θα είχα τώρα μια ελπίδα.


Danae Sioziou is a poet born in 1987 and raised in Karlsruhe, Germany, and Karditsa, Greece. Her first poetry collection, Useful Children’s Games, was published by Antipodes Editions in 2016. She has served as co-editor of the poetry journal Teflon. Her poems, articles, and translations have been published in various journals and newspapers (Teflon, Poiitiki, and Brooklyn Rail among others). Her poems have been included in four international anthologies: Austerity Measures (Penguin, 2016 – US and UK), La Búsqueda del Sur (Animal Sospechoso, 2016 – Spain), Kleine Tiere zum Schlachten (Parasitenpresse, 2017 – Germany), Les Femmes (se) Rencontent (Editura Universitǎții din București, 2017 – Romania). She was awarded the Hellenic Association of Writers’ “Giannis Varveris Prize” for a first book of poetry. She regularly participates in various performance and art projects and works as a foreign language teacher and educator. She is currently based in Athens, Greece.

Panagiotis Kechagias is a writer and translator born in 1978 in Athens, Greece. His first book, the short story collection Final Warning was published by Antipodes Editions in 2016. His translations include the short story collection Prodigals by Greg Jackson (Antipodes, 2017), “The Gold-Bug” by E. A. Poe (forthcoming by Gutenberg Editions), and Solar Bones by Mike McCormack (forthcoming by Antipodes Editions).

Images courtesy the author

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