Josef Kučera


There was a rippling pond and the croaking of frogs
and various birds anas crecca,
there was the tingling of sand on the Borecké Rocks
and the cracking of pinecones pinus sylvestris
and white feathers torn from a wagtail motacilla alba,
there was a thicket behind the pond typha latipholia,
there was lovemaking coitus completur,
there we were alone,
the sun, a red larisa, flashes of bright color behind the eyelids,
there was mud intermingling with fingers lutum inter phalanges distales, medias et proximales,
there were water skippers on the surface like Jesus docet gerres lacustres,
there was your body,
corpus corpus corpus,
the surface pounding and beating wings of the swan cygnus olor,
your neck taut and the mirrors of ripples on your breasts ubera tua,
there were burnt onions and an instant pea soup pisum sativum pulverisatum
and clay that never holds together et pulvis numquam coniugabilis,
deafblind sheep barely born ovis aries,
there was a mace of shaved willow with bitter bark salicis albae cortex
remedium contra febrim,
there was fuit light et in hac luce tamquam umbra venti gelidi,
qui frustra amorem quaerentis,
but later just hic nescimus quid factum sit, a stick laid across the path
there was a question of quo faenum volat,
there were organs and on earth peace et in terra pax to people of good will
hominibus bonae voluntatis,
but then,⁠ it’s only April
and the furnace still smells of coal.

JOSEF KUČERA is a practicing orthodontist and the author of three collections of poetry in Czech: Polykat peří (To Swallow Feathers, 2019); Nežádoucí účinky ticha (Side Effects of Silence, 2020); and the forthcoming Hranostaj snídá dívku (The Ermine Eats the Girl for Breakfast, 2022), in which this poem appears. This is the first publication of his poetry in English.

About the Translator:

JOSHUA MENSCH is a poet and translator living in the Czech Republic. He is the author of Because: A Lyric Memoir (Norton, 2018) and an editor at B O D Y.