A Sequence of Sorts – Three Albanian Folksongs

Frank Kuppner

One foot on the second-top step of the small flight
Of stairs which lead to the door of her fine house,
The other on the third, the very old lady
Stands, staring dead ahead, clutching the railings.

At one point in my tortuous, interrupted walk
Linking up all the second-hand bookshops I know of
In this city which I visit too rarely,
I pass by her, guiltily, without speaking.

2.

Where a few paths converge at a pedestrian crossing,
Two young women with astonishingly similar heads,
In quite different and equally astonishing coats –
Twins, clearly – arrive just in front of me.

I slow down, to be able to follow them
Between two lines of pink-white-blossom-shedding trees,
On a path where, in the last century, a jawbone was discovered,
Which perhaps once gaped in wonderment.

3.

The carton of chilled apple-juice, which I bought
In a small cellar-shop, not far from Holyroodhouse,
Which royalty departed centuries ago,
Before a sudden thunderstorm altered my plans,

I cautiously open and take a sip from
In the evening, in a small untidy room
On the other side, more or less, of an unwide country,
While three children play, far away, in the garden.