Jesih Milan:

Unseen angels walk noiselessly - barefoot without

    stirring the wind - around the sleeping houses; this is now.

Wooden I lie awake in didaskalia, my eyes weary, mouth

    dry, with a heart that knows everything: everything,

when even nothing was too much. The merciless hour

    of sheet - the date gone, impressing no memory of its traces.

Just like those angels outside leaving no footprints in

    the grass. Bread is melting in the cupboard.

On chandeliers flies are lulled into a light sleep. I, too:

    just to fulfill the longing of my eyelids! To slide into sleep!

But there are no angels: it is I who unknowingly

    stumble in blind images around neighbors, scenting their wives

and daughters instead of being in my room; let all of me

    fall asleep, rest my eyes and give dreaming wings

to my bubbling blood. The heart knows everything

     (when even nothing was too much), but is still fond of pounding:

perhaps this is the only true way of being. This is now:

    the cherry branch in the vase is locked in a spawning of time;

on the table cooked spinach, made for the noon meal,

    hovers in water.


        *    *    *


Tonight I again stared at the moon: hastened to meet

    her on the way to a pub, followed her on my way home.

On the foothills shone, like sugar crystals, houses

    between barren trees, the people in them have fallen



into their honorable sleep; wine was pounding inside

    me, and if a soul were anywhere awake, I’d have knocked

and stolen some affection: but even the dogs were quiet.

    I was wading in time; in my pupils

the spell of an unknown night as if I were a pious man,

    kneeling in some cathedral.


I stepped into my room kneeling. Turned on the light.

    Swept photographs on the wall with a glance.

Oh, gracious thanks! on the table, solitary, white, where

    from! alone! from merciful nymphs given an apple:

let the teeth, grown for a candid laugh, bite into it, the

    teeth I no longer have, let then the mouth be happy;

I halted on my knees by the door, fingers of my

    stretched hand on the doorknob at the height of my shoulders:

an embryo in an unnatural, dangerously abortive



        *    *    *


The city quarter of Sentvid is golden - washed by a

    rainstorm, made serene by the sun’s brightness,

calmed by a fresh wind from the Gorenjska fields. The

    soul, likewise, longs to rest:

I sit by the window with a sleeping book in my arms,

    lost in the dark blue of the sky, too shy to get up,

tired of sitting, melancholic after reading the lives made

    into literature. Sunk in thoughts: my mother believed

everything was predestined, I’ve insisted that man         


I kept putting off a great deal of time for some future

    time - and it so happened that my present self

and my future self stayed awake for some fat years. Now

    there is nothing promising or encouraging, the heart freed

from the weight of a hopeless hoping: it is time to turn

    the TV on, foreign wars and long legs of sniper guns,

and simply be. To chase the corrosion out of the heart,

    though - who can tell? The air is soft, each breath grace:

Oh, clouds! Lambs that escaped to the sky! Aided by

    winds, kind brothers, they reached the heights of their dreams!


        *    *    *


The night is dark and silent. Only when a shy south

    wind blows, the open window winces and the dancer

in the curtain pleats stirs. The night is a dark solitaire,

    deep like a grave and as gently inviting, softly luring:

it kneads doubt into the heart dough, filling people’s

    bodies with anxiety, and they desire to escape out,

across currant bushes and gardens, across streets,

    bridges and meadows, through mountains crushed to scree,

over straits and birch trees - away into a freshly-dug



the evil steals itself into everything, gnawing the skin,

    corroding metals - utter destruction is its measure:

even when for a moment a tiny flame begins to shine in

    a rat in a cellar or an insect in pea blossoms,

a flame that is hope and faith, it hunts it down and kills

    it. The air in the room is humid, scentless,

without memory - its presence a shuddering touch to

    eyelids. With a blanket wrapped around my knees

I sink into an armchair and wish to remain that way,

    frozen in time.


        *    *    *


When a tiger sheds its skin - how vulnerable becomes its

    flesh! - a blanket will embrace me like crust,

harsh, dry, sleep with a face of promise will take me in:

    when an animal sheds its skin, when the air is


on a plain, how full of death the room becomes! Who

    was I? White distances,

savage naked beauty, an intense presence, bubbling

    miracle, an inspired will - thirty years of childhood,

much pathos and milk an - ho! - the terrifying

    unfulfillment of man!


And so what? Should wars start so I’ll pull myself

    together? and have, ashen from fear, one wish only:

to live? Or an unexpected love in Italy. Or snails,

    slithering in the moist garden. Or coal in cellars.

It is not true that the sound of an accordion is heard in

    times like such. Nothing is heard.

Nothing is there. I smell of sweat. My shirt, my wrist

    watch and weights. No manifestations of change:

everything remains in its assigned, improper place.


        *    *    *


I have arrived and it is true: the house has neither the

    teeth of a sea-urchin nor the hopes of wives rebelling

against their husbands: the blossoms of the hallway are

    opening, the weight of rain is foreign, left outside.

Here there is only the good old sameness: the halted

    thought of an angel and traces of the fragrance of hay.

What, then, do I bring: not a gift or letter in my hands,

    not a heart or star inside my chest: just some barefoot words

behind my ear - I put my T-shirt on and between

    drinking and salvoes, without a shade of distance,


I watch spellbound - as if in oblivion, or in devastation,

    or some different, distant life -

a small table made of black rosewood, encrusted with

    copper, on it three napkins, three teaspoons,

cacao in three little cups: oh! the interior so tranquil in a

    stable charisma and enchanted symmetry,

leaving me breathless, opiated, removing past and future

    lives as the fragile rain rustles

behind young curtains like the divination of a prophet.


        *    *    *


My writing eluded me, I was absent-minded, the paper

    is now full of an unrecognizable scribbling,

a new order is rising all around me: butterfly curtains

    on the windows, tapestries on the walls, rugs on the

    parquet floor,

and on the ceiling a horoscope in which the glowing

    beings of heaven tremble quietly; Aries shot Sagittarius,

Aquarius is throwing Pieces on Libra (it all happens in

    tranquility), Scorpio dies lying on Virgo, Gemini have escaped,

they are gone - strangely resembling the truth?


I should put my skates on and in one leap cut the planet

    to pieces; who knows what is holding me back.

"The skate is hard to put on.""The ice is sowooden."

    "This house has no door.""I’m not going  anywhere today."

Kneeling in the middle of the room I am shivering; was

    there a need for all this?

No gravitation, no magnetism, no powers - just the alien

    presence of my native world without hope

and without reminiscence: a hand holding a hand like

    an unknown wet glove.


        *    *    *

At night, when birds are asleep, there are stars the birds     

    don’t know of unless they open their eyes

from the pain of dreams. Night is a soft discreet charm:

    luring is the playful pliable hour - offering,

but in truth taking, bringing tears smilingly; and how it

    showered itself with flowers! and the gentle wind;

its mane, adorns its nape, spoiled by kisses! and the

    tempting siren-like silence, the night’s magic spell

which is killing, killing, killing everything, and iron and

    the pristine pagan faith!


The birds are oblivious to this and to the stars unless

    they open their eyes from the pain of their dreams and stare,

bewildered, into the night. They don’t know of me

    digging ceaselessly inside myself to find a memory

that would console me, forgetting I am not a mine.

    Then, what am I? A huge blueberry,

full of sharp human horrors; distance and promise; and

    the birds don’t know, the birds are asleep. They know nothing

unless they open their eyes from the pain of their

    dreams as a cold shiver awakens the soft cores of their hearts.


        *    *    *


This unknown village - strewn on the slope as if it

    wished to climb the mountain - this village is my home.

My heart knows its church-bells, its apple-trees in

    blossom, the old men and women and their south seas,

their northern fears. It was there I experienced all the

    big things of my childhood: my father’s joke,

the clear laughter of my mother, a headless rooster,

    matches in a hayloft and all the things

and thoughts permeated with a healthy ardent



Distances, distances. Now I sit in the brittle library of a

    dark foreign city, my blood throbbing lazy and lethargic

in my temples. The village! maidens are rocking their

    breasts under thin linen,

while I have deliberately chosen the bare life, denounce

    everything to quench my thirst for learning, so I’d not stay small

in myself; a pearly honey has gathered around my pain,

    passions evaporate after being stirred

by the forceful winds of time - and afterwards we don’t

    know how it all was or what the life was all about.


        *    *    *


Morning, a graceful morning arose amidst the

    mountaintops; no force can hold back the fragility of time

in its awakened trepidation; like nothing can hold back

    the growth of day, the opulence of light; and what has rotted

in the heart cannot be brought back to life: all through

    the night - an intense new moon in May

I was writing a poem: of my heart’s desire for joy,

affection and truth. But, I gave birth to pain:

my poem became a vessel of distress, and the shards of

    my broken life are now starring at me.


The world is asleep, faces peaceful; if not for their

    likeness to blossoms I’d think they were dead.

My fingernails hurt from the lazy passing of minutes,

    grating my trembling: I am a human bomb,

a scream of despair! The forest is oblivious to ants and

    people: everything ever coming to life

in it will return from the same into the same. I spread

    honey on bread, milk is boiling,

I take a clean napkin; an immense drop of the sun’s

    light floods the shadows of earth.

Translated by Sonja Kravanja