09. 09. 2009. 11:52

Bread Tags (poems)

At times there is something surprising even in harmless scents. / For example, the scent of urine in roasted coffee. / In everything that perishes, there hovers something / of us, and suddenly, when nobody / is even looking, what happens / or slips away?

Inside of every automat, a dwarf is at work.
They stir the coffee, send the cans of cola rolling down,
push the cream pastries towards the opening,
count the money and plunk down the change,
if any change is returned; they rinse, empty,
signal the presence of an error.
They know more about the enigmas of the human soul
than a psychologist, and maybe even than
a doorman, and in addition they do not become frantic
at the emergence of an unpredictable sign, whether
that of a baby carriage or a doorbell, in order to meddle,
using eulogy-cloaked rebuttal, in the
confined and yet universally legitimate conspiracy:
who shall carry the relay buckets from the lime-man,
for some, if a line must be drawn,
slaking, leavening, just keep on going and going.
They don’t do that, but only from time to time
note down a number, or a fraction
in their ledgers, which they hand in at the end
to the headquarters of the servicing firm
when on a transparent pretext, the automat is carried away.
I would not be surprised if one fine day
ambulances pulling cement-mixers
would drive along the most isolated streets of the city
as a gentle reminder that it is time now
to simplify things and slacken our pace,
to think of those same three sides,
that is the pear, the bell, as well as the drop of lime
but first we shall nail up our black sheets
all around the walls.
At times there is something surprising even in harmless scents.
For example, the scent of urine in roasted coffee.
In everything that perishes, there hovers something
of us, and suddenly, when nobody
is even looking, what happens
or slips away?
That is why you watch.
Their depravity is not unique,
when it comes to them, it’s not like something
that can be explained, but the good words,
as if all people in a certain respect
would be their friends, and it’s in you as well.
You yourself with them, or to us,
nothing at all.
Isn’t it as if pianos were being
rolled out in front of you everywhere?
You want to cut across a park
and you see the obliquely slanting trees,
people, standing atop their open lids,
yet you are not surprised. A piano
resembles everything: a tractor,
a shoe, a wallet with many compartments.
We lean against each other with the measure
of the late afternoon shadows. At times
you perceive in me that which, a priori,
has no ties to anyone.
Or, from the searing chunk of sidewalk
the asphalt thawed in the garden in winter,
and at other times on a broken slab, the radiance
at the fissure, like a warm speck of lava cooling.
Or when everything is seen from up close,
the lens sheathed in one large piece of basalt
and with benign indifference sees no distinctions
only there, where the fissures lie.
Our house on its little ball bearings
spins towards the Morning Star, as in the obscurity the breeze
carries off the faint whimpering.
Crucial to await every minute, but then
it goes on far longer than anywhere else in the world
or while on a journey. The dizziness isn’t even
in our heads, but merrily wanders
across our bellies like a transparent, drunken
ladder, this must be the most ancient thing
in us, to eat and void our bowels, to grasp
and by grasping to ruin and improve,
to discern the foreseeable future with the measure
of our mouths and intestines.
Or as when we still were fish
and we swam at home in all of the water,
there the memory of that too
together with the masses of air
accumulating alone in our heads,
with the void and the stars.
From this darkness, continually growing again
upon every corner, or perhaps into something larger,
so that at last it will not be possible to know where it shall creep,
when it shall be turned inside out
and what name it shall be given, the name of a sun
or of an owner; I must lift something out and across
from this, a cog-powered, cast-iron chaff-cutter,
which I could never operate incompetently
or of course maybe just once,
then it would be better if I always ran it,
or it could turn out – for it must be raised so quickly –
as a colossal three-plumed key
for which there is certainly no lock on this earth,
even the records have their limits.
But no matter what it is, I still have to lift it
only don’t let it be warm and soft, but all the same,
I am too late, it shall not be known now,
chiefly as it’s heavy, requiring at least two,
and in the best of circumstances there would be cooperation on my part,
in the dark, meanwhile by all indications
although there is no time for indications, I am alone.
Across a railing or across a fence,
to lie in wait in that root in an empty hour,
the border of that certain territory
where the law still spread out its body,
but a law ever weightier, like a fathomless
garden; the paternal kindred earth in its natural form always
a horrifying gaze, which I must now
intentionally call forth, and hoping only
that it shall so pass.
The heart of a mother feels all. If something is
wrong somewhere. Or on the contrary, if everything
is alright, it feels that too.
I am a mother’s heart, a mill left all to itself,
I just grind and grind up the little men
with their enormous eyes, because they must see blood,
I can hardly turn away from them, or if they do not see,
then they will indicate when it is time to take off
the bandages, wounds moving around on two legs. And what emerges, nothing,
for they inspect that too, it has to be thrust way, into a sack,
a box, a pigsty. If something is amiss, and yet
still a spurious personal one is the smallest that I would
find under the bed, or it is poking around here under a pseudonym,
or an unshaven man is installed, and makes allusions to memories,
and wants to embrace me, groping, takes my bag, locks me
into the bathroom, I try to escape through the window,
the neighbours are running to and fro.
At other times, however, as if from a great distance, the opposite occurs:
everything is nearly all right, but a little
uncertainty always remains, of which later it emerges
that it was foresight all along, a determining
link that did not repeat itself in the course of events as it should
have, of its own accord, from the beginning
But there was no doubt at all, when once in a foreign
temple, where for as long as I could I sat
in the silence, in the semi-darkness, nearly floating
within a closed eye, from which all the while a tear flows and congeals
halfway down, so that I could finally comprehend that it is only in the good
that I must intervene, and I must think forcefully
upon that which is happening now, so as not immediately to come apart
into two different terrors, so that something may be conceived
which later may not be denied.
It is always the beginning that is valid, that would be the order of things,
one after the other, all the beginnings in one place, so they could all clatter away,
they could sway and warm the living marble for the temperature of weeping,
when it is certain that our lives are in agreement with what can be preserved.
But let not the beginning modify anything; the gentle
light with shadows, inscribed numbers with scattering or division,
the order created by our hands with a plain solution
between the drawers cast from tin and pewter.
Last Days
By morning I have always forgotten
the evening, whether I was there
or not, if with muteness
I forced anyone to listen,
or if others recounted backwards,
in a chorus, until that moment
when behind a curtain was heard
the sound of a stranger’s weeping,
so that then the entire day I could go out
from myself with the most selfish of existences,
until reaching the most perfect emptiness, when
with a tiny movement I am all the same
of assistance in the aimless disintegration,
for the sake of impetus I throw
together the beginning and the end,
and then suddenly I take off, I grow blind
from the light, and sounds make me deaf.
From moment to moment I must guide my fingers
across the chill stone, the broken glass, the old
bitterness, across your belly, your back, or anything
that might hurt, let there be
a common testimony.
Once at midnight after a beautiful day
it slowly began to rain.
The umbilical cord of silence
from the thickening darkness.

Translated by: Ottilie Mulzet

Tags: Ferenc Szijj