Immanuel Mifsud est né à Malte en 1967 et est le plus jeune enfant d’une famille ouvrière de 8 enfants. Il est actif sur la scène littéraire maltaise depuis l’âge de 16 ans, époque à laquelle il commença à écrire de la poésie et fut le co-fondateur du groupe littéraire Versarti. Ultérieurement il fonda plusieurs groupes de théâtre et mit en scène des pièces de théâtre écrites par lui-même et par d’autres écrivains connus. Il est l’un des principaux poètes et écrivains contemporains et certains de ses textes ont été traduits et publiés dans plusieurs pays européens et aux États-Unis. Son recueil de nouvelles L-Istejjer Strambi ta’ sara Sue Sammut (litt. : « Les histoires étranges de Sara Sue Sammut ») a reçu le Prix de Littérature National de Malte en 2002 fut ensuite sélectionné pour le Premio Strega Europa Prize. Il a participé à des prestigieux festivals littéraires en Europe. Immanuel Mifsud est professeur à l’Université de Malte, ou il donne des cours de poésie et de théâtre maltais modernes.
Translated by Albert Gatt At the Addolorata
On your mother’s grave. From behind the thick, dark lenses of your glasses, I saw the tear sliding down. It shouldn’t have done that, but it did; it just popped up and slid down. You thought I hadn’t noticed anything, but I was watching you. I was always watching you, always keeping an eye on you, to see how you’d behave. Like the time I caught you with your hand behind your back, making the sign of the horns when someone – I don’t know who – commented on how well you looked, God bless you, in spite of your age, in spite of the permanent damage to your left leg, in spite of everything you’d been through. I was always on the lookout where you were concerned. And on that day, I was watching as this tear slid shamefully down, with the shame you had felt when I had once drawn your attention to another tear sliding down your cheek. On that day, I made you feel even more ashamed when, clinging to your wife’s apron reeking of garlic and onions, I announced to all and sundry that I’d just seen you cry. I didn’t know that soldiers could cry too. I thought that soldiers were made of steel. I thought their face was always stern and strong and tough. I thought it was just me who cried, just me who did things I wasn’t supposed to do. Just like that day. That day. That was the time you used to tell me that I couldn’t cry. I’m a big boy. You can’t grow up and become a man if you cry. How can a boy like you still cry? How can you still cry when you’re strong enough to tear this place apart? You can’t cry, do you understand me? You just can’t. But I do cry. And I feel ashamed when I cry. And I feel ashamed because I shouldn’t cry. And I feel even more ashamed because – do you really want to hear this? – I actually like crying. I like to feel that trickle of warm water. I like the constricted sensation in my nose, my eyes screwed shut. I like it when everything looks bleary. I like disobeying you. I like feeling scared of you because you’re scary. Because you look at me and your withering look scares me. And I quail and move away. You cry too. You cry too, soldier.