Debeljak Aleš:
Elegies From The North I

Earth. Red earth. And tall grass as far as you can see.

You’re pressed to the ground. Hidden from unwanted

glances. Utterly still. A quail by your ear. Are you

turning into stone? No: you‘re just listening to shadows

fall over cornfields. A bead of sweat - a tear? - slides

down your cheek. In the distance a mountain rises

steeply. Naked. Without trees or flowers. Imprinted on

the sharp-edged horizon. On its peak, lost in the clouds,

generations of stag hunters wander for centuries.

Glistening of the setting sun. All the signs say: end of

Indian summer. If I hear it right, nothing comes from

your lips. Are you dumb? Blind? Perhaps you’re

searching through memory for the shapes of all

prints - footsteps in the snow, old songs and cognac in

the evening, small white towns with castles and turrets,

the smells of Sunday afternoons, the river running

under granite bridges. As if this, too, escapes you. Here,

under the empty sky of ancient tribes you never heard

about, you’ll end your way. I, of course, always return.

You don’t. Which makes all the difference.

Translated by Chris Merill & Aleš Debeljak