Blesok no. 106, March-April, 2016

Translated from Slovenian by the author and Andrew Zawacki

Aleš Debeljak

To My Few Friends

    Above the herd of white cities and above
    the fires that frame them, a scarlet kite
    appears for a moment, guided by a child’s hand.
    Come. Just follow me. It isn’t far to where
    you will have a view of ripened fruit
    as it remains, lying in wet grass:
    the order must have been fulfilled.
    Unbearable, yet necessary, like the horizon
    that dams the light ad softens
    the defeat of human shadow.
    You too will lie, it’s your habit.
    Here you will count your handshakes
    with the neighbors, errors in the language
    and a horror of runaway troops, the biography
    of castle walls, of streets and public squares,
    saliva, heartbeat, sinew, semen,
    some murals and portraits, forgettable
    decrees. Come. Follow me. Here you will
    shiver like I shiver, in labor and in love:
    it is easy to live without memory, but not
    without the legacy of what runs in the veins.
    For now I pray apart, but I don’t want
    to kneel in private forever – come,
    follow me, since no one would dare
    to go there alone, in stammering
    and drizzle, even for a little while,
    evaporating out of the visible world.

Before a Throne

    Wait for me, my lord, I would like
    to stop, I would like to sit down,
    to cross my legs and look
    at nothing but you. Please excuse me,
    but I would like to see you up close
    from the top of a dizzying tower,
    I want to see myself as you see me,
    you who take shelter in the flicker
    of flat, impassive stars. You see a woman
    dressed in a cotton shirt,
    her talent for comfort, her loyal physique,
    a woman who wants to make a home
    in all this: let her, lord, in your huge hand
    reaching toward the north, where it vanishes
    like silver among the fish, in the no man’s water
    of the Atlantic. Maybe I myself will see her
    just as I am seen, beneath a sky that fades
    like a distant foghorn, alone in the world,
    a garden of mandatory twilight.
    While my family and children, playing
    somewhere, slipped out of earshot
    as you approached, you pressed against me
    tighter than any need, entered and
    devoured me in an instant that knows
    no term. With a glue as white as dolphin fins
    you splashed my forehead and face.
    I would like, if only once, to see this as you do.

A Sunday Dilemma

    A town square, a cave of damp salt,
    the snow has stopped falling, bladed cold,
    the street is quiet, pedestrians in and
    out of arcades, like skimming on waves
    in the republic of water, ice crystals
    under the night lamps focus their
    shapelessness, disheveled rooms wheeze
    in extinguishing light. Loner uncles read
    magazines, their covers covered in black
    foil, and love, this little-known thing,
    feeds on the calories in detail, it sucks
    them out of the final marrow, an animal
    marking its territory, I hear a noise that’s
    not yet words, a leg along another’s leg,
    maybe too quick for my taste, but I want
    to be there, feel the feathered arches of your
    ribs, every breath will trigger a flood of blood
    above the lobes I want to lick, I have to say,
    somewhere on the Turkish side of Cyprus,
    in towns that gather their shame to themselves,
    again I return to the surface to breathe,
    above the frame of the screen: out the window
    with it, then, it hasn’t yet conveyed if I’m to be
    a storm tomorrow, or today a lightning bolt.

The Promise

    I don’t look over my shoulders, no idea
    where I’m headed and not an ounce of fear,
    falling like fluff from an eiderdown quilt,
    sinking in the afternoon air, real as an hour
    of solitude or the fragrance of an herb.
    My wounds are healed over and all five senses
    in sync, harmonized to the birds and the sky,
    the grimy wall of an underpass with graffiti
    scratched in a child’s hand, announcing
    I was here. But not only here, my lord, as you
    know, I go where you want me to be –
    tonight, for instance, I am a wave
    you push across the Old Square, underground
    through a parking garage, over the banks
    of a lazy green river and over the files
    on a drawing desk of another architect.
    Come, a whisper says, and again
    I flood the channel, at one with
    the darkened air above the city and the steppe,
    like the pillow you smooth and soften up
    for someone unable to sleep,
    lying along the world as it slowly goes out.

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