01. 16. 2012. 12:35

Poem of the month - Ágnes Nemes Nagy: An American Train Station

These poems are starting points and final destinations, poems of homecoming: arrivals at homes chosen, absurdly, in a "nameless" geography in a forgotten American train station.

The poetic word is also disjuncture. It is its disjunctive nature which makes it a reminder of  one’s eradicated, lost life, of the existential parameters of one’s "being here." This kind of poetry may be read as an uncompromising poetic interrogation of poetry itself, its survival in the twentieth century, and the dramatic (non)knowledge it offers into all that isn’t any longer, into all that has not survived.

Nemes Nagy writes in an early poem "Félelem" (Fear) that "every" minute may be the "final" one, nonetheless she "never forget[s] to marvel" at the fact that "as opposed to so many others," she survived along with some of her "scribbles" jotted down on the secret notebook of her "cell." These are texts which depart from themselves, exploring the limits of language and the limits of consciousness. They are starting points and final destinations, poems of homecoming: arrivals at homes chosen, absurdly, in a "nameless" geography in a forgotten American train station as an embodiment of Nemes Nagy’s own self-definition. These are images of a home always associated with our going toward our own houses as final destinations. They are a movement towards one’s own name, the final place of existence, at "this impossible height / …at a chasm’s copper/ coloured edge… / staring into the never-been and never-ever-will-be /  nonsensical" which, this time, searches for and finds its speaker:

I do not know why, but always the stations.
The old ones, disintegrating, the ones in the making.
Always the stations. Here, again.
In this new world, at this impossible height,
as if some Kalevala-forest were drawn all along,
or more a forest’s edge,
from here sparse timber trees, skulking bushes over there,
if trees at all, drooping heads of spasmodic juniper trees.

Dusk. Stains of snow. Copper coloured sun
still above, and the gigantic, copper-red chasm,
as they spray the air with their final, fused
copper dust. Here, twilight. The abandoned station.
Dark wooden hut, pioneer house on the prairie,
frozen November grass between narrow rail-lines
(how many times have I seen this before),
at the end of the rails rusty buffers.
The final station of a dysfunctional mountain railway.

I am cold to the marrow. Yet I do not move.
Just a minute ago I stood at the chasm’s copper
coloured edge holding onto a dead juniper tree
staring into the never-been and never-ever-will-be
nonsensical, timidly saluting the Sinking Ship,
the stone blocks of a Hindu Temple
which were once as vast as geological thoughts.
I have recognised them, no doubt.
Yet here, this station, this is reserved for me.
This… nobody wants. I receive it. I lift it up.
I embrace its dark parcel which
I will never open.          

Ágnes Lehoczky

Translated by: Ágnes Lehoczky

Tags: Ágnes Nemes Nagy