The Prose Poem

Ales Debeljak

In this moment ...

In this moment, in the twilight of a cold room, thunder approaches from a distance, through storm windows and dusty panes, in late afternoon, the water in the pot doesn't boil, when fish gasp under the ice, when half-asleep you tremble, as if without hope, when a pack--a herd of shivering stags left the dried marshes deep in the woods and came to the gardens in town, this fleeting instant, when the cold slices through your spine, when hardened honey cracks in jars, when the thought of a woman's hand--laid on the forehead of the dying--comes closer and closer, when from the depths of memory destroyed villages you wanted to forget begin to rise, when guilt and truth burn your stomach, when frightened pheasants are flushed from tapestries hanging on the wall, when guards leaving their posts whistle to one another, piercing the air, when a sharp stone breaks your skull, should I remind you now that your wounded body won't be any different than the shadow a solitary bush cast across the trampled earth, east of Eden?

Translated from Slovenian by Christopher Merrill (with the author)