Our things from the stolen satchel
must have been thrown, in disappointment,
in a pile at some quiet spot by the river:
the checked shirt,
the red hairband.
They must be lying somewhere in the snow,
Once in a while the envelopes stir.
The blue color weighs down the shirt.
When was the last time
we were so together?
True darkness is in a child’s bedroom. Deep black. Elsewhere there’s just a meager, watery twilight, in which everything, in the end, acquires a humiliating distinctness.
PETR HRUŠKA is a poet and literary scholar who lives in Ostrava and works at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague. His poetry collections include Obývací nepokoje (Restless Living Rooms, 1995), Měsíce (Months, 1998), Vždycky se ty dveře zavíraly (The Door Always Used to Swing Shut, 2002), Auta vjíždějí do lodí (The Cars Drive into the Ships, 2007), and Nikde není řečeno (Nowhere It Is Said, 2018). In 2013, he won the State Award for Literature in recognition of his collection Darmata (To No Travail, 2012). 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.” Collections of his poetry have been published in German, Polish, Italian, Hungarian, and Slovenian translation.
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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 his translations of Czech prose and poetry have appeared in the journal Circumference, Dalkey Archive’s Best European Fiction 2018, and elsewhere.