Petr Hruška


the big trucks roared like ravenous
beasts of the night
you called out the price to me
a room for two people
the guy from the gas station
angular with lack of sleep
led us up a steep staircase
Berlin Krakow Trieste all of it
was in the past now
I had never seen
such a narrow room
when we wanted to turn around
we had to embrace


On Saturn’s moon Titan
there is a wild methane sea
There seem to be
frozen cliffs, orange in color,
emerging from it

You came to tell me this
with a fixed stare
your arms hanging by your sides
The cupboards
propping up the walls

The pipe stupidly yellow
how many years

And now
the sudden unexpected closeness of those
who know
about Titan’s sea


The Ukrainian woman slept curled up
like someone
who knows how to conserve space, warmth,
maybe even a dream.
Now she is sitting up again.
The spot on her face
looks like old age,
a prickling rash she’s had since childhood,
a recent outbreak of fever,
concealed lamentation.
Or just the imprint from the seat
of the international express
through an endless plain
and its tall, silent grass.

PETR HRUŠKA is a poet and literary scholar who lives in Ostrava and works at the Institute of Czech Literature in Brno. His collections include Zelený svetr (Green Sweater, 2004) and Darmata (2012); the three poems translated here come from Auta vjíždějí do lodí (The Cars Drive Into the Ships, 2007). He has said of his poetry: “I think that real grace and erotic love appear only where all the gloominess, stress, and weariness of life are in some sense present as well, all the ‘loneliness of relationships.’ Only in their midst can a tenuous thread of light shine, containing all the fateful nearness of which two people are capable.”

Read more by Petr Hruška:

Poems in B O D Y

About the Translator:

JONATHAN BOLTON is Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University, where he teaches Czech and Central European literature. He has edited and translated a collection of a hundred poems by Ivan Wernisch, In the Puppet Gardens: Selected Poems, 1963-2005 (Michigan Slavic Publications, 2007), and has previously published translations of Wernisch, Radek Fridrich, and Petr Hruška in the journal Circumference: Poetry in Translation.