Debeljak Aleš:
Elegies From The North II

The sodden moss sinks underfoot when we cross

half frozen bays and walk through birch groves,

wandering in an uneven circle that widens into

darkness, through the minds and bodies of men and

animals trapped in last year’s snow - no: trapped from

the beginning, emptiness all around us, ice collecting on

our pale faces, I can hear you singing on the run, an

unknown melody, I can’t make out the words, clouds of

breath freeze on your fur collar, eyes open wide as we

trudge through silence and weakening starlight, through

the fevered babble of children exiled to distant camps,

insects, curling up under bark, December or June, no

difference, ashes blanket the ground as far as you can

see, damp wool of shirts, we wade through the fog

rolling in from the hills, oozing into our lungs, hills

where there must be flowers about to bloom under a

woman’s eyelids, who dreams of dark faces hardening

into granite, the snow’s covering us, we’re asleep on our

feet, under the steel-gray sky, oblivious to the rhythms

of sunrise and sunset, endless, as if they never began,

our teeth crack in the cold, we don’t want to separate,

I can barely swallow, tell me the lyrics of your song,

I want to sing with you.

Translated by Chris Merill & Aleš Debeljak