Queen’s Street, Toronto

“Jekk trid naqraw xortik mill-pal ta’ jdejk –
tletin dollaru u ssir taf min int;
ħamsin u nħalluk timtedd u tistrieħ,”
qaluli jien u miexi fi Queen’s Street.

Ix-xufier mill-Bangladexx għandu storja;
dejjem jgħidha kif jirkeb ħdejh barrani.
Lili qalhieli wkoll, imm’issa nsejtha.
Xi darba,’kk niftakarha, żgur niktibha.

Kull erba’ bibien ħanut tal-kafè.
Kull tnejn xi ħadd rieqed fil-fond fuq l-għatba
bit-tazza tal-kartun bi ftit muniti
itterter kollha bard fis-skiet u l-muta.

Minn tarf sa tarf tat-triq timxi l-istorja,
timxi bil-mod, timxi bil-pass il-pass.
Iddur mal-kantuniera u tispiċċa.

Queen’s Street, Toronto

“We can read your future through your palms—
thirty dollars and you’ll learn who you are;
fifty and we’ll let you lie down and rest,”
they told me as I walked along Queen’s Street.

The Bangladeshi taxi driver has a story;
he recounts always when a foreigner alights.
I was regaled too, but I’ve forgotten it.
I’ll surely write it down if one day I recall it.
At every fourth entrance there’s a cafe;
at every second someone sleeping on the doorstep soundly
with paper cup trembling with some change
rendered mute with cold and silence.
History walks from one end to the other of the street—
It walks slowly, strolling,
taking its time. Casually strolling
till it reaches the corner—turns,
and is over.

From Around Two and a Half Hours Away from Heaven (2019). Published by Klabb Kotba Maltin, Santa Venera, Malta.

Translated into English from the Maltese by Ruth Ward

Cover art: “Movement” by Eros Livieratos

Immanuel Mifsud Photo Edited

Immanuel Mifsud

Immanuel Mifsud is a five-time national literary award winner and a European Union Prize for Literature recipient. Novelist, poet, playwright, and translator, Mifsud is a founding member and current president of PEN Malta. He lectures in literary theory and Maltese literature at the University of Malta. His research focuses on the body and sexuality in literature, as well as the field of psychogeography.

Ruth Ward

Ruth Ward’s creative collaborations center on the Mediterranean, particularly Malta and Spain. Her translations of poetry and fiction have recently appeared or are forthcoming in AGNI, Columbia Journal, The Los Angeles Review, The Antigonish Review (Nova Scotia), The Common, Modern Poetry in Translation (London), Poet Lore, and Southword (Cork, Ireland). She is a member of PEN America.