Poems

Primož Čučnik

EASTER MONDAY

In fact, they are small
when they fly from the flame to the grass
and their life lasts no more than a breath,
like the stars that are seen for a second, and then gone.
And yet the universe is round and it will surely return,
though our ancestor worshipped them without name
when he struck stone on stone.
Then it even began to speak
and engendered the beginning which seems endless,
but surely it will return, if the incredible is taken into account,
for “the stone itself would speak”,
the very stone would speak
if it did not want the tongue, to the best of its ability.

And in fact they are minute,
as they leap from bough to bough
and shoot from fir cones at the time of great flames
when there “is so much water and so little help”,
if you throw a bucket, attach a hose or cut a path
across the flames which carbonise stout trunks.
And surely they return, from the beginning to the end,
from the end to the beginning and from flux to efflux,
“only the stone remains mute”, it will not speak for you
on the black slopes, black boughs and charred trunks
and so much sea around. “We wanted to use this wood,
but the fire had its say”. “Now we are speechless,
luckily, the fishermen threw their nets and caught
some food for all, since we heard from no one.”

The most transitory are those
that char the soul or the south-east hills.
“No-one cares about the stones, there is so much to do
and we still have not learnt how to pray.”
“Though the cities be as crowded as they are, we stay.”
“Oh, who would like to live in them, we only buy there
matches, you cannot find them here any longer.”
The stones will not catch fire, and anyway, they would not
burn, “it was a horrible but a marvellous sight”.
Now we count the shooting stars, the most beautiful sparks
crackling in a great fire as if in a dream
in which you stand and automatically take in
the warmth, but you do not know – will you ever return to the voice.
Will the kindler kindle? Will the stone speak?

 

PIETA ON MY WALL

Slanting her gaze
and offering her lap
to the motionless body.

The limbs drape across her
loosely, the breath reaches over,
leaning on her shoulder.

With her head bowed,
cast in a body of stone,
for this place or the other.

 

Translated by Nike Kocijančič-Pokorn and David Limon