The whole time he tells you what to do.
His voice is chocolate candy filled with hysteria.
He is a loving blackmailer. An owl blind in one eye.
It is enough that he sees half the world to command the other half.
He gladly inspects himself in the mirror, but goes crazy if you praise him
Before another. He is not your property. He is not your adornment.
Only when you dance and when you make love with him, he coos.
Then cages open. Then he is the white message bearer of the gods.
Gradually you detach him more often, hide him in a box, misplace him.
But his bite at the lobe still whispers to you.
As if Eros holds you with invisible filigree pliers
And solders words of guilt and the silence of betrayal into your ear.
A copy of a stone from Sisyphus’s mountain is set inside it.
You roll hope uphill. And you roll downhill drunk, despondent and alone.
Aleš Šteger has published four books of poetry, the nonfiction book Berlin, and a novel in Slovenian. “Earring” is from his volume The Book of Things.
Brian Henry’s translation of Tomaž Šalamun’s Woods and Chalices appeared from Harcourt in 2008. His most recent book is In the Unlikely Event of a Water (Equipage).