It will be this way and no other, he said. Who? The brunette,
now swallowing the afternoon fog and picking buttons
from my short sleeve shirt, it opens strangely, in a style
out of fashion. And I know: a hitchhiker who never enters! God
grant me charming words and smooth endings, grant me a slender
birch I can lean against and forget how life can humiliate us,
like a moon and flowers in the straps of a black weekend dress,
grant me trust in the possibility of a common uprising and cadence
of a blessing, once I could break it into a jubilant shout. Language
knows no private property. It will be this way and no other,
he said. Who? The brunette, who earlier was sipping beer foam,
he has friends down the hill, in the old Vodnik, he persuades me.
He doesn’t know there’s no need, really: I embrace a trunk and change
into white folds of bark, I am freshly peeled. Now write
the way I want, cut boldly, so it shows, the name for joy
that sprays. And a blowout. It is this way and every other.
Aleš Debeljak has published eight books of poetry and twelve books of essays in Slovenian. His books have appeared in thirteen languages. Without Anesthesia: New and Selected Poems was published by Persea Books in 2010. He has won the Prešeren Foundation Prize, the Miriam Lindberg Israel Poetry for Peace Prize, the Chiqyu Poetry Prize in Japan, and the Jenko Prize. Debeljak teaches in the Department of Cultural Studies at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia.
Brian Henry has published nine books of poetry, most recently Brother No One (Salt Publishing, 2013). He translated Tomaž Šalamun’s Woods and Chalices (Harcourt, 2008) and Aleš Šteger’s The Book of Things (BOA, 2010), which won the 2011 Best Translated Book Award.
Translator’s note: The Vodnik is a pub.
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