SIMPLE SONG OF MY WIFE As she comes in, cackles burst from the door, The potted plants all stamp, shaking the floor, A blond streak, small and drowsy, in her hair Cheeps like a frightened sparrow in the straw. Clumsily whirling towards her through the air, The ageing light-flex too lets out a squawk: Everything spins – to jot it down, no chance. She has come back. She has been gone all day. She bears an enormous poppy in her hands To drive death, my adversary, away. 5 January 1940 FROM: Miklós Radnóti FORCED MARCH Translated by George Gömöri and Clive Wilmer Enitharmon Press
VISITATIONS As one comes in another goes out. As one shakes out a tablecloth another is eating a hearty meal. As one sits down alone another listens to his lover’s heart beating. As one prays for deliverance, another delivers a letter or an explosive device. As one gathers the harvest, his brother lies in the doorway. As one finds a nice coincidence between numbers, his neighbour sees his coins disappear down the waiting slot. As one man examines the fruit of his labour his shadow tells beads, counts peas into the pot or stars in the sky and feels the night wind blowing on his face with all this coming and going. * As one goes out, the other comes in. It is light in the window where the angel bends over the stove giving the virgin a fright. It is bright at the top of the house where the road ends. There’s a distinct touch of gold in the gutter running with beer. There is translucence in the chipped saucer with its rim of used butter. There’s a glow on TV. There’s a faint sense of the luminous numinous in the alarm clock set for six in the morning and a kind of shine in the mirror the angels have learned to unlock and enter suddenly and an even harder to define radiance in the skin, in the shock of dawn with sheet turned down and bedroom curtains drawn.
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