Agim Mato was born in 1947 in Saranda, Southern Albania and passed away on 10 may 2021. When he was aged three years old, the Communist Party arrested his father together with a group of other intellectuals as enemies of the system, and imprisoned him for 15 years. Since that time, his life has known many challenges. Living in poverty and without basic rights, Agim Mato was prevented from going to University. As such, after finishing his High School, he became a labourer. At the age of 20, Mato published his first book ‘South’ (Jug), and four years later also completed his second book of poems entitled ‘On the doorstep of our homes’ (Në pragun e shtëpive tona). Being the son of an ex political prisoner, his right to have his work published was revoked and his books were ordered to be pulped. He was to never publish again during the regime. After the collapse of Communism, Mato sold his house, bought a printing press and established the publishing house “Milosao”. Mato publishes the works of other authors but does not print his own until 2011 when he publishes three books back-to-back entitled ‘Outside of the Eclipse’ (Jashtë eklipsit), ‘Immersion’ (Fundo) and ‘Navigations’ (Lundrimet). These were well received by critics and by the reading public.
Agim Mato was elected as the head of the ‘Ionian Creators’ Club’ (Klubi i krijuesve Jonianë).
In the year 2014, the President of the Republic of Albania accorded him the title of Grand Master.
I AWAIT TO LEAVE THIS BODY
I await to leave this body. I can no longer dwell
in this caricature burned by the forgotten dreams, lit
during lonely nights,
by the fires that so devour
and nearly scorch it entirely.
Many times have I let this body drip
awaiting nights and days in the brink of time, edge of galaxies,
under the deafening resonation of stars.
I can no longer stay and dig
in these buried cities of memories,
where the wind blows the diapers of the dead poems,
in case I find in the heaps of rubbish,
a lost caress, the shell out of which appeared Aphrodites
and the glimmer of a light extinguished by the storms.
What’s done is done in this life. Now I’m aa beggar,
who stretcheshis hand out to proverbs. Maybe
they will briefly donate to me the magic password to open
the Sesame of beauty
that I did not reach.
If not today, tomorrow I will leave this body.
It is poitnless
to stay inside these remains,
calcified by the yers, the waiting
and the grunts of previous censors.
VERY LONELY IN THE SOUTH
I am lonely in the South, wizened over the cliff,
blackened and worn by the rotations of the galaxies,
leaked on by the stars, cleaned by lunar droppings.
Lonely and forgotten by the ships that have long
changed their itinerary.
Loaner, with its bulb turned off
over the frightening abyss of the sea,
feeling only a few faraway flickering signals, whose
meaning I have forgotten.
Lightless and blind I stand in front of the gods.
A better fate befell Prometheus
when they sent Hermes to change his nails up there
on the cliffs of the Caucus.
At least he exchanged a few words.
He would learn what happened below.
But here where I am, on this cliff
lost on the deluge of the waves, nobody comes
as before, to bring the acetylene gas, to clean the lamp
and to light once again the fire of my soul.
I am lonely in the South,
Wiped of the register of the maps of the sea.
Take me news to descend down there, in the city where you
encourage a bunch of angels, to toil me with my love for them
but I will stay here, where the majority are no longer.
I cannot leave them now they need my friendship,
for my two-pronged hoe that goes through tombs,
for the old kettle with which I water their flowers,
for a cigarette,
a single matchstick,
a lit candle.
Now the stairs of your building blocks tire me.
The nightly wind makes the church bell ring
and I remember that one of them beats its rusty clapper.
I wake up and lay on the bed that I am still not familiar with
with the empty space from the dark times, eating breakfast
life gathering before me like a knot before my eyes.
I become a child, a wife, and have my own children,
I fill chambers with my breath,
fill them with you and those fleeing from this life.
They say the house is kept standing by the breath of a man,
and I visit all the corners in a row,
touch all your photographs,
forgotten toys, a cane still hanging on the wall,
a hat hung on a nail,
old shoes under the gap in the drawers.
The cat Beleck majestically walks through the yard
with its tail raised as no one bothers it no more.
The black dog tied to the Fig tree in his dreams
remembers each of your scents.
I also remember my childhood playing with skipping ropes
and filled the wooden jugs and clay ewers at
the Great Fountain Spring,
with musk and humidity around,
ripples throwing water on our feet throughout summer and winter
with the large cavities of the cave from where the water came,
with the darkness and echoes of voices from
within her, as if coming from the afterlife,
that we believed existed.
Sometimes our peers would hide there
and would began to act as jinn. We dispersed
crowing like a flock of birds flying
from trees hit by stones.
The serpent engraved in the dugout, an ancient thrill,
resembling a witch with its tail curled together.
During the School holidays
we would gather poppies, Mallow Plants and Smoke Tree blossom
and we dried them in the yard,
laying them on old sheets we used no more.
Afraid that the wind would blow them away and we played
limping there, under the sounds of the Wren bird’s Isos and
other birds' songs.
I see the lights lit during the night down there where you live
and I miss you.
I do not say,
the group of angels that call for afar burn my soul,
but how can I let go of the memories that cling to my spirit,
lives of countless generations that keep me connected
and then come to you ?!
March 2016 - Gusht 2021
Translated from the original: Fatmir Terziu