11. 07. 2006. 11:08

Marmaris (poems)

András Gerevich

“'I brought you to Florence to see this':
my father pointed to Botticelli’s Venus.
'Your dad looked like that when we got married',
said my mother, at the statue of David."


In a racing car
the buzz of a wasp:
your body beneath the clothes.

Date clusters dangling,
and bustle on the shore:
your hairy chest.

In the sky a plane,
on the beach a slipper:
birthmarks on your skin.

In the sweltering sands
a sweating anchor,
your swollen nipples.

The sea rubbing up
against the blinding sky
the surge of your muscles.

Translated by Thomas Cooper

Family trip

“I brought you to Florence to see this”:
my father pointed to Botticelli’s Venus.
“Your dad looked like that when we got married,”
said my mother, at the statue of David.

But being ten, I just liked to clamber
over towers, ruins, heaps of rock,
chase my way up spiral staircases
and round and round lofty cathedral domes.

“Well,” I thought, “Dad’s totally different,
he’s older, hairier, a little fat.
But when I’m grown, I’ll be like that statue.”

Dad still recalls my mystified response: “this?”
But whenever I see the David statue, still
I grow embarrassed, like a young lad.

Translated by David Hill

Christmas Shopping

It had chilled down, grown dark, I was waiting
for you after a quarrel: glaring at every tram
in the square, noting how the more people passed
the more they resembled each other: the crowd
was getting on my nerves. I was frozen. If only
I could hold you I thought, I could forget everything.
It no longer mattered that it had started snowing.
Every bone in my body was turning to ice,
so in the end I walked home through the snow
carrying my bags. You had left the butter on
the kitchen table and a half-eaten sandwich by the computer,
your muddy footprints led from the balcony
towards the kitchen. I put some music on
did the laundry and washed up. Before going to bed
I decorated the tree so that should you call at night
you would find everything in order
and quietly creep into the bed beside me.

Translated by George Szirtes


No more breakfast in bed for twenty years.
“Hard travelling, a lonely homecoming.”
The oracle was cool enough in heat of summer,
the cold shook his sweaty body in the twilight.

Hide away twenty years. At home, dressed like a peasant,
he spat and muttered idiotic nonsense, pawing
the menfolk. A felt hat covered his coiffured hair,
a long cloak hid the lack of a starved peasant body.

He found himself a plough, harnessed a donkey
and an ox: one for the summer, one for winter.
It was still dawn, mosquitoes fed on his neck.
Twenty years for nothing. Nothing at all.

Sprinkled salt on the furrowed earth: his own country
was a dried out ocean. His lips trembled like any idiot’s.
Agamnemnon, Menelaus and Palamedes nevertheless
Found him: three kings bearing no gifts arrived together.

One addressed him as gentle as the dusk, in vain,
the second, like noon, in more masculine fashion,
he carried on ploughing, poisoning the earth. The third
shouted, like morning, like a dawn reveille. In vain.

They seized on the newly born heir, Telemachus,
and threw him in front of the ox, in the dust.
His father’s eyes opened, he leapt after him, sat him
on his lap, hugged him to his foul rags with salty hands.

They slapped Odysseus’s back, laughed and dragged him
away to toast his twenty years. Talking of women and girls
for the last time instead of fortifications. Drunkenly
they embraced each other, so they should not remember the future.

Translated by George Szirtes

Tags: András Gerevich