Two Unlikelies

A két valószerűtlen

For one thing, it was minus fifty out there.
Then, even if your nose didn’t fall off whole,
tigers would rip you into pieces.
Or if you avoided the stripey peril,
the local peasants would definitely turn you in.

In every hundred, ninety-seven perished from the labour.
After a while the Serbs were let out,
then the Hungarians.
He, a Pole,
was released
in fifty-nine. One of the last ones.

He’s saying all this in casually fluent Russian,
with a face that shows no imprint
of either the twenty years dragged out in the goldmine
or the lack of the same period of proper life.

Stamina, he explains. At forty
he started over, back home, as a stonemason.
Built himself a house, too, in ten years.
Now fifty-seven, travelling for the first time.

And me, I’m just hitchhiking up Hungary’s familiar E5
— Kistelek, Félegyháza, Kecskemét, Lajosmizse—
from unleavable Szeged
to unreachable Budapest, between not being and being.
More on the road than under roof,
the burden of myself making me stagger.

He’s Stanisław Kamiński. From Toruń. Born in Bydgoszcz.
As a freshman, the Soviets took him off for “two days”
of work. September of thirty-nine.

Did I read Solzhenitsyn?
He’s got a diary, too. I could visit and he’ll show me.

Sitting in the imperial language,
in a soft space capsule, an alien womb,
we’re cosmic travellers, weightless already.
The two unlikelies (his story,
my hearing it) melt into one
in the bramble taste of Russian words.

He hums some song from the camps,
winks in the rear-view mirror (he’s a rogue all right).

Would I like some halva, his young girlfriend asks.

Translated by David Hill



Legfrissebb művek

Krokodilopolisz - blog