30 March 2009

Ivan Diviš

[from Ivan Diviš's The Old Man's Verses, translated by Deborah Garfinkle, Host, 2008]

In memory of Pavel Plavec

Pavel and I entered the cathedral in Passau,
ill-timed, late, that is, as the services were ending.
The fortissimo tutti of the world's largest organ
nailed me to the floor.
The institution driving lambs to the fold
with these ear-splitting contraptions, not Christ?
And where did He remain? I asked myself in disbelief,
with the character trait engrained in me,
backed up by everything I've known
and scrutinized through and through? And where is He?
And right there He stirred in my breast.
I was flooded with warmth. Come, he said --
and we left. It was September, the month
in which I celebrate my birth.
The pristine trees were clinging to their stiff leaves.
With a clap, a flock of doves took off
like a gunshot.


I tried sticking a hair into a pool,
but it didn't work. The strand buckled on the surface.
I got up and took the strand to a wall made of vanadium steel
six meters high and darkly glinting.
I tried sticking the strand into this bulletproof wall
and, at once, on the very first try, the strand penetrated it.
I felt it poking out on the other side.
I had triumphed because the city on the wall's other side
lay in ashes smitten by the unexpected shock of the blow.
I hear the slight rustling of the pages of a dream-book as if
a child were wailing.


The Old Man's Verses

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