Across the street from Spinozas house

/, Blesok no. 99/Across the street from Spinozas house

Across the street from Spinozas house

THE FIFTIESafter Adam Zagajewski

father and his father
stomp down the gravel road
all the way to the town to see a football game.

high noon buzzes through the young summer air;
the roar of cicadas is in the pine trees…
glassy hoppers glint in the grass:

the Mediterranean
as we once knew it

– is still there.

a bit further to the north
the airy crowns of convicts
melt under the belting Sun;

dripping like the sweat underneath
their sleeveless white T-shirts
as their sad and bitter sigh

carries itself all the way to the grey Maltese docks
then echoing out into the icy mountains
of the Altai region in the far east.

somewhere behind Žrnovnica
grandfather, like an ancient lizard,
suddenly scowls his fissured face;

wincing from his tight shoes
that are killing him,
that damn pair of footwear

he shares with his first cousin,
a locksmith who compulsively steals rusty pliers
and steel nails from the dusty workshop

of the local power-plant,
absolutely unable to explain to himself for what
purpose in the devil’s name he needs them all for.

simultaneously, in a Dedinje salon in Belgrade,
Tito cracks jokes as comrades
from the Central Committee laugh raucously

while he tries out his new metallic
polished as a dog’s balls
light duty lathe machine.

all across the country
generations with pointed chins, much like Modigliani’s,
are busy building Socialism

with a human face;
the system
that would gradually, like mean drops of vitriol
burn a deep hole in their souls.

but in father’s head
the world still bubbles unexplored,
floating like a translucent jellyfish across the unsailed sea,

as he daydreams of a new DKW motorcycle
as black and shiny as Silvana Mangano’s high heels
and as powerful as Mons Jerko’s untied robe.

so in my thoughts
– for I can’t help it –
I worry endlessly about that boy,

because I know his ride
will be an uncertain and long one.
I wish I could tell him not to worry,

to relax and take it easy for everything will
more or less someday fall into place.
but words fail to leave me:

perhaps I have no mouth to speak them yet,
perhaps I’m not around as much as I should be,
perhaps I’m still only – slowly but surely – just getting there.

Translated by: the author and Majda Bakočević

2018-08-21T17:22:36+00:00 November 9th, 2014|Categories: Poetry, Blesok no. 99|0 Comments