Worm-Eaten Time: Poems from a Life under Normalization
[By the tracks, a dog]
By the tracks, a dog
climbs into a rabbit skin. Frost
lifts the countryside with the chain pump’s
snapping, the countryside
Turns over the swollen tongue
of earth. I still remember
the straw blooming in the rabbit’s
slick entrails, its straw-stuffed
Innards, and your eyes.
Countryside, the only thing in them.
They weigh water
drawn from somewhere in the deep.
[The cold stump you sit on]
The cold stump you sit on
In the pond mud,
While we’re still dusted
With morning’s ashes. The seagull’s claws
Scrape bottom. The wind
rolls up the surface’s manuscript. The language is different,
only the words haven’t changed.
A leaf gets caught
In the gills of a carp
half-buried in the mud. The fishing
is done. The water dries out.
The net’s frayed. It is
Late. The same language, only
the words have changed. Instead of the bee
that got caught in your hair last summer,
you comb out the matted, shriveled tangle
With its unintelligible message.
[Sleep’s damp mice]
Sleep’s damp mice
and matted fur in the floorboards’
chinks, across the newspapers, in the exposed walls’
The silent mold silently
sounds its tenuous
bell. A woman lies down
beside me, the huge
Washed beet head.
A draft from the windows
blows out a candle
in the sockets of her eyes.
(for Václav Havel)
…Though Havel it’s said
is Emptiness in Hebrew
And you really dread
Lepers of rhyme
And lyric noses
You’re just that, a lyric poet!
…In the apocalypse’s din
the choir you stride from
like the old crone who thins
out the sugar beets on the lea
alone you go…
The lyric full stop on the horizon!