02. 01. 2014. 17:27

Jason (poems)

Jason, discharging his first-ever magazine.
Jason, standing stunned as the tumbling bodies
are whisked away and gone with the turbulent current.
…Had he done that? Was there so little to life?

Jason

She carefully unlaced her grandmother’s boots,
then kicked off her own. Before the pair: the river.
Behind them: Jason, the neighbours’ son from the square
lit by the frozen snow – and his machinegun.
Jason, discharging his first-ever magazine.
Jason, standing stunned as the tumbling bodies
are whisked away and gone with the turbulent current.
…Had he done that? Was there so little to life?

 

Gustav!

Feinstein, a Jew from Memel,
recognized his neighbour
in the execution squad.
And he cried out to him:
Gustav! aim
straight between the eyes!

 

Letter from Nusi

And now at last we are quite certain
we shall be taken shortly – but where?
Kolozsvár? Várad? Újfalu?
And then the wagons? Where from there?
But you don’t need to fret about us,
outside, the bags are all prepared,
the basket of food, a pot of honey,
a pair of backpacks, the bedding linen

the cart is waiting by the portal
for grandma’s ride (poor gran’s old feet!)
and mum has sent a card to dad.
No time left. Still, what really matters,
the place is tidied up for winter.
Sanyikám, darling, I take my leave.
And tell our father he’s in my heart.
Whatever our lot, we shall be safe

God shall provide.

 

Robbery, Naked

You wont be needing these, said he,
and flung my mother’s photograph
among his booty, and my shirt.
I still retained heaped on my blanket
the things I had to bring: a mess-tin,
my boots and socks, warm underclothes,
a bar of shaving-soap
– and I had
that irremovable mark on my finger
in the place of my looted wedding ring.

 

Towards the Dniester

As the marchers dragged themselves forward,
the bare-footed peasants by the road
picked out the choicest boots and trousers
and, at their bidding, the guards
shot down the occasional well-clad prisoner
in exchange for a handful of notes.
The deathmarch stumbled on towards Orhei.
The peasants collected their wares.

 

Thomas Ország-Land is a poet and award-winning foreign correspondent who writes from London and his native Budapest. His last book was Christmas in Auschwitz (Smokestack, 2010).

The following pieces will appear in The Hundred Years War, a landmark anthology to be published by Bloodaxe/England in April. More poetry by Mezei,  a major Hungarian writer, will follow in Survivors, a Holocaust anthology in Thomas Land’s English translation, to be released by Smokestack/England in June.

Translated by: Thomas Ország-Land

Tags: András Mezei