07. 14. 2009. 11:19

Hungarian Bride (poems)

János Térey

"Miss Omnipotence,
Miss Ambivalence, dear!
We write to each other, keeping
Twin diaries: the sharp echo
Of each other’s voices ring in our ears;
Should there be no echo, only noise
We’d miss each other terribly"

Hungarian Bride
Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number.
Jer 2.32
 “Miss Omnipotence,
Miss Ambivalence, dear!
We write to each other, keeping
Twin diaries: the sharp echo
Of each other’s voices ring in our ears;
Should there be no echo, only noise
We’d miss each other terribly
In the meantime I hide from you
Until it’s clear I have no alternative
But to live with you. Till then
I will avoid you, and yes,
I manage brilliantly in other people’s gardens.
With anyone, in fact, except you.
Proximity burns us out; each love-bomb
Means total destruction.
“Miss Tolerance,
Miss Zerotolerance, dear,
Once more I twist the blade
In your heart: for days on end
You don’t hear from me!.. I spend the bright
morning polishing the window
until I can see my reflection in it.”
The more she stands up to me,
The more human she becomes,
So much the greater she is.
I could weep thinking how much
She has earned her right to pleasure
I torture her at her own request, so that I may be tortured.
She tortures me, so that she may be tortured
Since that is her exquisite pleasure.
Hungarian woman, how thoroughly
She has deserved all that torture!
I’ll make her fall in love with me
To torture her yet more exquisitely.
Interview with Anthea

Severe, brown-eyed beauty,
Like Parmigianino’s Anthea,
A ferret slips from her shoulder,
She lets it run off. Her voice is hard.
Go ahead, ask, she says. She has time for me.
“How was your weekend, madam?”
We parked the car deep in the intestines
Of the enormous ferry. Then off to Ischia.
It was pouring by the time we docked at the harbour,
Great bucketfuls of rain, a proper
Full day’s drenching. On board we were
Like two businessmen travelling
In tandem, later like two disappointed
Honeymooners. If a bay is
Even vaguely round, we suspect
It must have been a crater in the past
Like this, a crater left by one of the hotter
Meteors; the jetty, like the lighthouse,
constructed from the deposit of andesite.
A dirty boy on the beach
Screamed in our ears: Moneta, moneta.”
“And what is the principle on which the planet works?”
– It moves, subject to the elements
or to the staff manning the elements on earth,
which is, after all, much the same thing.
A golden age of self-love builds the villa,
Raises the flood barriers;
There’s an earthquake every fifty years
On the average. So what?...
“And what did you like most about the island?”
Anthea smoothes the creases on her dress.
– The musical rocking-horse in the harbour!
The same child could have three rides
For the money we paid,
We couldn’t get enough of him.
I also liked the infinite, bottomless sadness,
And that the sparkling water was called Lethe.
The men in those parts are not especially handsome,
But one tourist looked quite pretty
with his eagle-nose and legionary face:
I liked the Arab family in the corner
bursting with health, wading through
the ankle-deep rain. The night’s anthracite. –
“And where do you most enjoy yourself?”
I like The Lifestyle Museum best:
Its walls are Pompeiian red, like all
the grander buildings we have back home.
My husband’s voice, each word,
Was dripping honey
On the Saturdays we went there,
Just he and I at such times –
Like two joined silhouettes.
“And what is your favourite game?”
Anthea grips her left hand glove
In her gloved right hand.
– Mine is the game called Hell is Other People,
Otherwise known as The Love
Accumulator. One never grows bored of it,
And luckily no blood involved. We like it. –
“Would you prefer to have a boy or a girl, Anthea?”
I want a big-assed girl with a Madonna look.
She should be blue-eyed like my husband;
We’d dress her grown-up, she’d get used to satin;
Her blonde hair would look good with a pink top.
She’d walk the street in a gingham skirt,
Her breasts already developing, although
She’d still be carrying her teddy bear.
“And how do you feel after your divorce?”
I’m suffering from a sort of dry-land sickness.
I sleep much worse now there are no more
Crossings. I throw away my post
Unread. And no end of problems.
My doctor tells me I am missing
The flow of open debate
“And what has happened over there since then?”
I imagine the island must be emptier.
I imagine the villa will be silent now we’ve gone,
The tea-coloured bulb of the table lamp will have gone out.
I imagine the grass we sat on has grown straight again.
The cones of the bougainvillea will be blossoming
As before. That’s how it goes. Everything else blossoms.
“And how will you prepare for the winter, Anthea?”
Her hair tumbles from its thick braid.
I shall put on Christ, I’ll clothe myself with him.

Translated by: George Szirtes

Tags: János Térey