YOUR FEET DON’T TOUCH THE FLOOR / DA SE NOGE NE DOTAKNEJO TAL
Mom brought a new Daddy, packed up
her three daughters and they set off, trading
skyscrapers for the wild West. Grandma
and Grandpa rejoiced to see them go.
The girls soon gawked at buffaloes
in road-side zoos, caged rattlesnakes,
two-headed coyotes, gigantic rock sculptures,
real Indians on cactus-dotted prairies
and long, empty highways.
Step-daddy’s schemes to make a bundle
fell through again and again as the tribe
grew to eight, on the run from unpaid
landlords and grocery bills to yet another
town, yet another home, yet another
Daddy a.k.a. Pop tried to make farmers
of them all, and seasonal workers. Taught
them hunting, horseback riding, fishing
and poker. Things to share with the sons
who came too late.
As girlhood turned to maidenhood, Pop
prepared his rifle for eventual weddings,
but as they came of age the three sisters,
one by one, drifted back to the city.
A LESSON WELL LEARNED
Low set slivers,
those flat basement windows,
but outbursts of thunder
sent Grandma to shivers.
She bustled her charges
straight onto the bed,
her three little dears
Wide-eyed in the darkness
they humored each other
with squeals and snickers,
boasting of braveness
and slowly absorbing
as Granny pleaded
intense in the darkness:
»Careful your feet
don’t touch the floor!«
A MEETING AMONG NATIONS
An ancient cast iron pot, survivor
of centuries, hooked to an equally
agéd tripod; a charcoal fire,
cobweb clouds filtering flashes of sun
across flowing hills, no wind: the perfect
Twenty-two souls at ease raise wine glasses
to salute the success of their international
assembly. Tantalizing aromas
slither past their noses and circle
surrounding slopes. Neighbors sniff the air.
Onions chopped, potatoes cut, rabbit
sliced, garlic diced, the chef now stews
his delicacy on the open blaze. He’ll
toss in spices at the critical moment –
plus the lightest dose of fine white wine.
And as the sun touches the horizon,
the guests seat themselves, snatch up forks
and dig in, except for the lady from Györ
stalking round and round the table, muttering:
»Poor bunnies, poor bunnies«.
Clammy afternoon, only a hint
of blue in sky and sea. She misses
children at play, couples strolling
on the beach. Enough she’s had
of droopy pines and scrubs, limestone
boulders, concrete slabs. Enough, too,
of soggy sand, weeds grasping for survival
on rock walls, and plastic debris
tossed up by the tides!
Seagulls screaming, scenting fish, speed
toward her spouse, his lines cast
from the wharf. But, oh, a distraction:
a dark speck skimming the surface,
growing into a motorboat.
She jumps and waves. The boatman stares
straight on, unheeding, but she runs
parallel until he fades into a haze.
Chilled to the bone, numb, tired
of counting birds or scuffing at seashells,
she renews her hopes and joins restless
gulls on the dock where her mate
blissfully scales his catch,
and she listens to wavelets washing
the shore, swishing and slapping –
like a foot slowly tapping.
Cute as a button, bright as a spotlight,
pungent as feferoni, she was a tempest
wild to transform her settings.
Broom and dust rag raged in our son’s quarters.
Then she pummeled order upon our yard,
garage, porch, hallways,
and otherwise edged into our lives, questioned
our choices, mocked our thoughts,
faulted our friends. But our resistance,
that middle-age insistence on clinging to ways,
drove her mad, so she packed off one autumn day.
Left empty rooms and peace behind.
Now, from time to time in unexpected places
blossoms spring up in the yard, like memories,
catching you unawares,
treasures she had tucked in and abandoned:
a daffodil here, a hyacinth there,
a bleeding heart.
Ljubka kot Gumbek, svetla kot luč,
ostra kot feferon, bila je nevihta,
ki bi silovito spremenila svoje okolje.
Metla in omelo sta divjali v sinovi sobi.
Nato je napadla še dvorišče,
garažo, teraso, hodnike,
in tudi drugače je zasedla naša življenja, dvomila
o naših odločitvah, se posmehovala našim mislim,
nergala nad našimi prijatelji. Ampak naš upor,
to staromodno vztrajanje pri naših poteh
jo je spravilo ob pamet, zato je na neki jesenski dan
odšla. Pustila je prazne sobe in mir.
Zdaj se od časa do časa na nepričakovanih krajih
pokaže cvetje na dvorišču - kot spomini,
ki te ujamejo nepripravljenega,
trenutne muhavosti, katere je zapustila:
narciso tu, hiacinto tam
in kot krvaveče srce – Lepe srčke.
Prevod: Valerija Vrenko
Christmas installations in store windows,
Santa Claus all over town. Gift shopping.
This winter, the coldest in decades. Shivering
and weary I slip into a café, surprised to find
a fog of smoke inside and shrill, adolescent
chatter competing with loud Yuletide carols.
Vaguely eyed as I enter, a pause in the racket,
and the prattle quickly resumes. I feel like odd
(wo)man out, turn to leave, then recall the weather
and my bones moan. So I stay. And sure enough,
as flush returns to flesh, the spirit of St. Nicholas
unfolds in bells, ornaments and mistletoe, the scent
of coffee, the smiling waitress. As cosmic order
is restored, the ease of those cheerful youths
seems to augur a new era, one of joy and geniality,
and suddenly, alone at my table,
I am one with the crowd.
Homeward bound, headlights from oncoming
traffic skim white heads and you hum
Mozart from the concert we and our spouses
The moon, swollen gold, spews an amber
glow that blots out stars. Sliced from time to time
by black clouds, it shifts, now left, now right,
and I wonder how you will celebrate
this moment in your sketchbooks,
condensed diaries, tributes to your travels
and surroundings:flowers, figures,
We four are still heightened by being
together, though decades of moons
have brightened shared events:
exhibitions, debates, parties,
sunset strolls along the Danube,
births and deaths. We don’t bother
to recount them any longer,
or even recall them, or anniversaries,
or birthdays, needing instead to retrace
the path to our glasses, our billfolds,
or to recollect the names of friends
we knew so well – so many of them gone.
Gazing at that brilliance in the sky, I say:
»There’s never been such a beautiful moon!«
And you reply:
»You’re never out this late any more!«
A scrawny, unattractive infant,
a gawky, awkward child,
a gaunt, homely man,
he haunted the streets,
and the depths of his uncompromising
soul transported him
beyond the need to assimilate,
beyond the need to procreate,
beyond the need to love or be loved,
or even to care for himself,
and delivered him into the bright,
brilliant presence of pure Being –
If I have been here
or even twice, perhaps a score
of lives, to greet
what mystic test
my soul must meet,
what task to serve it best
to grow, still,
to this wondrous Eden
I would with utmost love
a million times
Če tu sem že
morda že dvakrat ali več
da bi spoznala
ta skrivnostni test,
ki moja duša ga opravi,
kako raste naj in služi,
v čudovita ta nebesa
ki jih ljubim,
z veseljem bi se spet
in še več.