That strange body, standing close to me,
took hold of my arm,
the oblique rail-line in my head
said—the train was approaching.
Chilled to the bones by this knowledge,
Nothing now that can protect.
The bodies and hours are leaving,
The darkness turns to signs.
Blind fate shrieking, living wound inside.
God’s beggar. What is he hoping for?
Here on the riverbank, leaning against the sidewall.
When there is no law, only will. Where he has no homeland, only betrayal.
I know where you live, I know that city well.
I know that black rainfall.
Your mother used to sunbathe on the roof,
in the summer you swam in the quarry lake.
I know that man, his legs amputated,
who lives in the entranceway.
I know that country, I know
its trains, its cries, its chlorine heavens,
its acid rains, its lingering snowfalls,
its pale overly-swaddled infants.
I know where you live. No matter where it is,
if you happen to think of home, the road bordered
with the stumps of acacia trees
haunts you in your dreams.
Where are you? You rest in the flat brick grave.
At the same time, on the souls’ invisible
field, like the moth, hovering you dance.
* * *
The rose, then its wilted stalk, then
Its memory, then not even that. The infinite
Cathedral of existence is oblivion.
* * *
Spring, the plumes of summer, fragrances carried off by the wind.
The heat of childhood dissolving into the light.
The wilted rose on my mother’s dress.
The sound of cars, bells ring in the distance
in my room hushed to silence is a lullabye.
The row of streetlights keep vigil
drawing shadows in the shade upon my wall.
Tomorrow's distant pale light gleams
into the sad multitude of memories and sorrows.
And from space, from the silence, from worry and today
Into lifeless being I faintly dissolve.
There lived once in Prague a rabbi who declared that as the Jews wander in the fog of the millennia, it remains undecided if they are to perish there in the dark mists, or if they will reach the Jaffa gates in Jerusalem where, beneath an arcade, a wretched beggar sits on a small footstool. His body sways back and forth, a dark upwelling of laughter continually bursts out of him. What is the beggar laughing at? Speak to him, ask him! He will say that he is laughing at you, for he is the Angel of the Last Day. Don’t believe him, though! If you feel that no darkness can be thicker, do not be afraid; know that this darkness has absorbed into itself the most radiant light. Then your heart will be filled with mercy for the beggar, and he will cease his rocking and laughing. And now ask him, upon his soul, what he is waiting for here. He will say he has been waiting for you, and only for you is he waiting. And now you should believe him! Believe him, because this means that something will emerge from everyone’s mistakes, and the biggest mistake of the Jew is that he doesn’t know how to tarry like a beggar next to the Angel of the Last Day but must go on wandering astray and getting lost. He must lose the name of God within his own self.
Hours went by like this. Awakening in intensive care.
Her stomach sliced open to the sternum.
You are beautiful, beautiful, the female likeness of my body,
enveloped in the palm of nothingness.
And the angel leaned above her.
And whispered in her ear:
Adonai, Elohim, Sebaoth.
Come back to the cave-night.
Take nothing from here, and do not believe the rivers,
the oceans! From here, you can escape only upwards. It is not worthwhile to recollect upon the Earth.
And suddenly, the dread of space passes. Behind the opening sliding doors
the gleam of enamel, wind-barriers, glass walls. Directions, broad
and open. Air at last. Distance, which must be travelled alone, giving way
to deeper passions. And yet so simple, like an etude. Ambling along the
keyboard, with large pauses for breath. Finally, there is awakening. To
awaken next to my beloved.
Yonibe, the King of the Birds, sits in the seven oceans’
depths, wings lowered. No longer does he fly
from the tree of Day to the tree of Midnight, no longer does he
speak the word of Dawn or the word of Twilight:
midnight has plunged to the seven seas’ depths,
the sun sleeps in the seven seas’ depths.
And Yonibe does not eat for seven years.
His legs grow thin, like a stalk of wheat,
his craw distended, on his beak algae and seaweed,
and for seven years he thinks of one song:
Fire, water, air,
the Flower of Three is turned by one hand.
If fire is above, it is wind that I blow,
If wind is above, it is fire that I light,
If water is above, to the water I jump --
fire, water, air,
the Flower of Three is turned by one hand.
The air is full of strange scents: mint, washing powder, plastic, earth, fresh paint, all mixed up together—it’s nauseating and cold. The fluorescent lights hiss and vibrate, I know that my head is going to start aching in a moment,as if we had already been winding in and out of these crates and boxes for along time. From above, from the direction of the ceiling, there is a soft creaking sound, and as I look up I see that high above, meters above the crates and the boxes there are huge puppets hanging down—paper birds with outspread wings, an owl-headed horse with red wings, a many-headed dragon, a violinist with a green head and a black coat, a sun, a moon, stars, clouds, a tractor, a catwearing gardening pants and a miner’s helmet."The Guest" in Words Without BordersExcerpt from The Bone Fire on Lithub.comOpening pages of The Bone Fire on HLOtranslations from the work of László Földényi:"Sleep and the Dream": László Földényi in The Paris Review "Goya's Dog": An Essay by László Földényitranslations from the work of Szilárd Borbély [ poetry ]poems in The Paris Reviewin Literary Imagination: from Final Matters: Selected Poems 2004-2010
The Former Realms of Consciousness
The one given to reflection shall not find a place among
the foliage as it unfolds and comes together again. A sparrow,
or tree-creeper,concealed by the branches.
As trees sway, the meadow breathes deeply,
after the rain the vapors ascend, and thicken,
like a warm downy quilt hovering above,
between the woods and the river. Just as with death.
Those awaiting rebirth gather words in the forest. Silence
leaves its profound impress on the brain’s yielding fatty
tissue. The chill river of oblivion gently
caresses the legs ofthose who step
into its furtive currents. Colored pebbles shine like capsules
at the riverbed bottom. But in the depths of the soul, its torture
chemically muted, a satyr, his face contorted, shrieks.
Like the details, such are we
stitched to the thread of desire. The theatre
of body is assembled, then dismantled,
every evening. Concealed boxes
we are as well, data upon data
painted. Held together by memory,
by magnetic strips, like the details
between the butterfly’s wings
as its light body flaps. For
that is how it hovers and flits above
the water, fluttering. Names written
on colored sheets, onto bare musculature,
like a butterfly plunging into fire, so as to become
a metaphor and cast off the mantle of language.
Words give us instructions
as to what may be endured.
For everything can be withstood
if the words instruct:
there is nothing that exists
more than its own self.
There is nothing within God
that would be more than
Form. And inside, the waiting
endures the words’ absence.
Language was there before God,
so in patience it instructs,
even if patience were nothing
more than the Form of Words.