Margarita Serafimova: from ‘The Oak Odyssey’

Hampstead Heath Woods


Margarita Serafimova is the winner of the 2020 Tony Quagliano International Poetry Award, a 2020 Pushcart nominee and a finalist in nine other U.S. and international poetry contests. She has four collections in Bulgarian and a U.S. chapbook, A Surgery of a Star ( Her digital chapbook, ‘Еn-tîm’ (‘forest’ in Maa), is forthcoming by the San Francisco University Poetry Center in 2021. A full-length collection is to be published in the U.S. in 2022. Her work appears widely, including at Nashville Review, LIT, Agenda, Poetry South, Botticelli, London Grip, Steam Ticket, Waxwing, A-Minor, Trafika Europe, Noble/ Gas, Obra/ Artifact. Visit:


An Economic Migrant to London in the Time of the Pandemic

‘These poems form part of a full-length manuscript written between March and August 2020, in lockdown London where I had just relocated for a new job. The poetry is an outcome of my attachment to the trees of Hampstead Heath and Hampstead Garden Suburb, where I lived. I spent much of my free time walking in those woods with my two hounds. I felt at odds with the social culture surrounding me, isolated, and needed the woods – the fascinating oaks – as a place of transcendence, of solace. This was a very archetypal experience, I think – the tree would act as axis mundi in my everyday life, as a means of expanding and integrating my curtailed situation with the outer world; in that way, the world itself would be made whole for me. I would imagine the high treetops connecting me to the surrounding ocean as if it could be seen from them; this allowed me to visualize the continents and the seas, and remind myself that London is limited and Britain is just an island so I could feel a part of the world. The gorgeousness of the mighty oaks in these parts is just something else. An important part of my daily dose of pleasure, i.e. sustenance, came from just looking and looking at them. They were my vehicle as I was traversing this period until I was able to get back to the Balkans and the Aegean, safely and happily.’


Margarita Serafimova: Twelve Poems from The Oak Odyssey


In a foil sheet on the ground mirroring a leaf,
I saw a face –
of someone mythical.

В градска утрин

Във фолио на земята, което отрази листо,
видях лице –
на митичен човек.



The sun indicated where I was to stand.
When I stood, the crowns above me, emerald,
placed themselves upon the world.

По-високите дървета

Слънцето посочи къде да застана.
Когато застанах, короните над мен изумрудени
се поставиха върху света.


Great crowns of the under-Heaven,
the oaks filled with space
were serving the stars an answer.
The stars were dumb.

Велики корони на поднебесното,
изпълнените с пространство дъбове
поднасяха на звездите отговор.
Звездите немееха.


Let me show you the door –
there where the morning ray is falling.
Why is it falling thus?
Because of everything.

Нека ти покажа вратата – там, където пада сутрешният лъч.
Защо пада така?
Заради всичко.


The higher wind was indicating where, amongst the branches,
doors for the light were to open.
And they were opening, as green as insight
into immanent freedom.

Висшият вятър посочваше къде из клоните
да се отворят врати за светлината.
И те се отваряха, зелени като прозрение
за иманентна свобода.



I was so deep into life,
I mistook water for fire.

След слънцестоене

Бях толкова навътре в живота,
че обърках водата с огън.



Between the shifts of the light, time left.
The trees remained in sunset.


Между смените на светлината времето напусна.
Дърветата останаха в залез.



Long curly hair, running feet.
The future is catching up with him.

Млад човек

Дълга къдрава коса, бягащи крака.
Бъдещето го догонва.


Being could be heard.
Over the roofs, wind was breathing .

Битието се чуваше.
Вятър дишаше над покривите.



Each thing is a symbol of something else.
The soul itself –
open and alone,
is a representation of the world.

Изумителните листа

Всичко е символ на нещо друго.
Самата душа –
разтворена и сама,
е представителство на света.



The upcoming moment had ripened and was greenly
opening – transient and mighty.
My cells were electrified.

Смокиня от време

Предстоящият момент бе назрял и зелено
се отваряше – преходен и могъщ.
Моите клетки бяха наелектризирани.



We were standing before the portal of the future
elevated by its rich light harmony.
As we were standing, we were entering.

Сами в красивата гора

Стояхме пред портала на бъдещето,
въздигнати от богатата му лека хармония.
Както стояхме, влизахме.


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