Lives Journal 4

Tatjana Pregl Kobe

 

YOU ARE NOT AND YOU ARE

 

 

In a shopping window I see an advertisement, announcing the changes

Life will bring us, moulding us into the people of the future. And I grow aware

Of your existence, the unperturbed image I carry in my heart. Between us

There are no sparkles, no erotic tension, just the ceaseless motion of spirit,

 

Disappearing smoke-like through the glass dome up above,

High up. It is, as if you saw through the veil of your pain,

Still wanting to help me. You are writing a will, not stating

Any conditions. I  seem to see you looking at me, yet

 

I am not convinced. How could he look at all my peculiar dreams,

At my bold desire, at my deceptive innocence and smile still?

Perhaps you look through the eyes of a spirit and the world seems altered?

 

I do not believe that, though. And so I sing and dance, shout and flail my arms –

For the both of us. Successfully, as it seems. The main street covered by the arched

Glass and steel ceiling disappears. You are not and you are. No matter what happens.

 

 

 

 

1

A great day pours through the window, blurring the features, reflecting in the eye white.

You speak. You lean forwards, your face manly throbbing with enthusiasm,

Gleeful defiance in your eyes, causing you to shiver. All of a sudden, there is no

Reason why, the zeal disappears as if there was a cut, as if there was a tear in a

 

Tightened thread or a rainy cloud. This morning our love is absolute and

Complete, for the first and the last time, I am certain of it. My face

Is washed by the icy tap water and I look at my reflection in the steamy

Mirror. As I return to reality, threatening me from the growing shadows,

 

The trembling magic is dispersing, leaving only an aching desire and no-name restlessness.

With a rigid, unfamiliar motion in silence covering the smell of laughter and the nudity of

Enflamed bodies, you shake your head, shrug and hurry towards the window,

 

Yanking it open, you lean out, not minding the rain, as someone

Trying to save himself out of an airless hole. Few wilful thoughts,

Born out of a pulse still flutter, now here, now there along the surface.

 

 

 

 

2

The last hours are passing by in another world, in a universe of fleeting

Touches, flirtations which I do not understand and which bite my thoughts.

On the steep path from the pier to the stone house on top of the island,

Both silent, we do not dare to express what is lingering in our mind. We walk

 

Apart, hiding ourselves from one another. You follow the salty taste

Of my lips and drag a questioning look behind you, asking me

Whether I have a faintest notion of what I am doing. It is almost midnight

As we stop in front of the entrance and exchange glances, without at least

 

Trying to pretend. It suffices just to throw a glance at you, to know,

That my elation is just a gust of wind within the storm pursuing you. I will

Never be forgiven for it. Bitter moon with its yellow rays travels along

 

The expanse of my skin, your hair is touching mine, the wind sings across

The tiled pavement and the mouldy plaster is voicelessly falling off. My

Silence is jerkily reflecting from yours. You turn away and walk into the night.

 

 

 

 

3

 

A tiny sparkle, a hundred times smaller than a firefly, lands on a drop

Of gas somewhere near the engine. At first it crackles, then there appears

The flame. The puddles reflect the fire, glimmering and sizzling, the flames

Reach the fuel reservoir, everything glows and flies up in the air. I pick

 

Rose blossoms and fill the twig basket with petals. Around the majestic

Oaks, where I imagine the grave to be, I scatter them, the rose petals, like ashes.

The birches on a glade, in front of the house, miss you more than they tell me. The tiny

Leaves are falling to the ground, which your steps used to kiss, without reproach.

I imagine my entire body in the last morning of my existence

Gorged by heat, by something immense, desirous. The lamp in the slowly

Departing darkness still playfully illuminates the ceiling with its amber

 

Light, like a cloud of smoke descending on your naked shoulders. After an ardent

Lovemaking we are lying in bed, in the glow of the morning sun watching

A blossoming chestnut avenue. Yet all the signs show this morning to be a liar.

 

 

 

 

4

I stand motionless, silent and trembling. I invent a pretence,

To avert you from realising that this is our last goodbye.

Suddenly your facial expression changes, your voice is overcome

By rattling, cold sweat appears on your forehead. I grasp that this is

 

The end. The rigor twitches through your body, subsides for a moment and

You look at me with eyes wide open. Your colourless lips are

Smiling, then your head drops. I bend, look for the candle,

Light it and hold it with both hands, so it would not drip

 

Or go out. I make a step towards the bed and look at the imprint

Of the body on a blanket, at the half empty glass on a shelf, at the crumpled

Towel with the embroidered monogram. I feel light thrusts of wind,

 

The candle flickers like love. For a moment, consumed by oppressive despair

I grow numb, then suddenly I rush outside, into the night. Only the lamp

In the dark hall burns. I feel miserable, breaking away from the ring.

 

 

 

 

5

For a moment I pause at the open window, lit with the scarlet glow

Of the setting sun, overwhelmed I stare at the garden, bathing in

The reddish orange colour until I sense the cold in the evening

Air. Not even a breeze stirs. It does not matter that I will never ever

 

Meet you, that the image, I have carried in my heart for so long,

Is fading away. The sky, the stars still exist, and the wonderful,

Eternal, immortal dreams, where I – a prisoner on your island– respond

To your calls, as you are walking with the book under your arm,

 

Offering me candies. Perhaps the luring sound of the flute invites me

To follow it or I have, in confusion brought about by memories,

Been clutching at straws to shake off the solitude, pursuing it.

 

The high-spirited night guard is approaching quickly, singing canzonas,

Accompanying himself with the dulcet jingling of the keys and steps,

Which are fond of the red flame. I fall asleep with your name on my mouth.

 

 

 

 

6

The Sunday morning is sunny, promising a fine day. Light

Footed – as if nothing troubles me – I am having a walk

Along the main city street, eluding young men with phones

In their hands and their feverish talks, neat clerks,

 

Returning from the morning coffee break in a nearby cafι, vendors

Who sell lottery tickets, smile and dance through the crowd at the traffic lights

And a ballet of street sweepers, appearing to clean the city with

Brushes in no hurry and with deliberate, filigree precise

 

Moves. I wander aimlessly, not knowing where I am going. I walk past

The shopping windows, not really seeing them, not entering.

I make my way past the cars and the nameless crowd of people at

 

The pedestrian crossing, not thinking of anything, having nothing

In mind. I am running from myself as we meet. We smile to one

Another, yet I know, in our thoughts we smile at different things.

 

 

 

 

7

 

The sharp wind drank up the deafening whistles of the ships leaving. The wiped sky

Stretches over the city boundlessly and cheerfully with its slightly bluish

Whiteness. The streets are clean, the house fronts laugh in the early May sun.

The white shutters shine, having been polished by the rain. A festive day.

 

A crowd gathers, their language fills the air. I always feel anxious when

I find myself on the brink of the murmuring chatter and have to immerse in it.

I fall into the depths to avoid sinister voices. I see people, violent, coarse,

Drunk with illusions, snatching at safety and sham happiness. All these people,

 

Walking straight ahead with eyes half closed behind the blinkers,

Have never plucked up enough courage to look deep inside themselves.

I feel confused, insecure and deny the fear of the unknown. The sky

 

Is still wet as a flag, the wind is clear and fresh, smelling of the sea. In

Fine sand the footsteps glisten. The crowd and I are like a mirror now,

We see and reflect everything. None of us know where we are, where we are going.

 

 

 

 

8

I am walking towards the centre of the city but I do not constantly

Look over my shoulder. Consumed by the absurd certainty that everything

Is possible, I imagine that the abandoned Venetian streets with seductive

Lips on not at all drowsy houses are offering me encouraging smiles and

 

That the hostile sea wind, bringing bad omens and fears,

Smells of hope. In the cathedral the bells toll midnight. As I near

The Saint Mark`s Basilica, I notice that on the empty, moonlit

Square in front of it there gathered a flock of pigeons. They cover

 

The square like a coat of white wings, swaying in odd silence.

I want to go wide around them, so I walk on and feel

How the birds – not frightened or flying away – withdraw

 

As I walk on and how they, as I move away, come

Together and form a ring, fluttering. In the ocean of silvery

Shadows I stand still. Safe under the cloak of night, far from people.

 

 

 

 

9

 

The clock in the distant square strikes and grows louder than the echoing steps

And the fleeting time. Perhaps I dream of you and will eventually wake up?

My time is not lost, it is the truth bordering matter and nothingness. Perhaps

I am outside myself, in the future? My body is tense with expectation,

 

My every move aspires to light. I am the expectations themselves, I wait

Under the street lamps, at crossroads, on the corners of renaissance

Houses, on the staircases of great galleries. In the house by the lake I wait to come

There with the blue light in my eyes, dressed in a transparent dress. I stand up,

 

Completely reborn – vernal and fragile – as if coming from the Botticelli`s shell.

I stand still, my arms next to my body, with a lump in my throat, growing

Into the unbearable sweetness of being. In me I feel the resurrection

 

Of longing after nothing. My solitude is therefore perfect under the beautiful sky,

Pleasant like a pure conscience amid the restless crowd of stars, I am astonished

at my existence. The reddish moon is gliding over the cloud cushions.

 

 

 

 

10

Between the coming and the departing day the butterfly wings are twitching

As butterflies cross the cemetery of my past lives and enter

The dream fever. Near the place of desire, near the town, where to

I am drawn so much, I notice the majestic mountains and high hills rising

 

And the river, covered with light mist. The wind is strong, so the woods carry away

The people`s voices coming towards me, to some other direction or

Blend them with undistinguishable rustling for so long that eventually I hear them near me.

The groups of young people are more easily avoided, since they make such clamour,

 

That it cannot be drowned by rustling and even against the wind

I can hear their lively cheerful voices. It is most treacherous of you

To quietly come near me, so I sense you just before we meet.

 

That creates an unexpected tension, so my heart commences

To pound unexpectedly as well and I have no time to retreat. From the river

Bed there comes the sound of water murmur, hardly quenching our feverish touches.

 

 

 

 

 

11

In the morning light of dawn you look like a kind, only slightly

Aged child. Hidden under an arch, smiling, with a flower in your buttonhole.

You have shaved, put on a suit, the only decent one you own,

The cream-coloured cotton one, appearing worn out, yet elegant.

 

I listen to you as you are telling me of the dark secrets

Of the Angel`s castle, of a supposed boat, at night

Sailing along the Tiber, gathering souls of desperate lovers who

Jumped into the rushing water and drowned, how the blackbird sings

 

And how the tiny chickadee seduces, of a thousand and one miracle,

Which you are making up as you go along, so I could not question you.

I watch you silently and search for a man in you, a writer of books

 

Which I know almost by heart, as I have read them so many times,

A boy with wavy hair, who – adorably witty, yet cogent –

Used to know this Eternal City of ours, every corner of it.

 

 

 

 

12

In the morning, as I step over the threshold of a cosy Tuscan hotel,

The streets still rest in mists and dew. The lamps are flickering

In slow sighs similarly to the city which is slowly stretching

And undressing its watercolour mask. The morning serenity drips through

 

The shutters and the blinds in transparent wisps of diagonal light,

Not reaching the floor. I stand still at the carved wooden

Gate blackened by time and moisture. The image, ascending

In front of me, is seen by my eyes as a corpse of a palace,

 

A museum of echoes and reproaching shadows. The years have changed everything.

What is authentic? And what is a vision? The world that I see or the world as

I see it? The sun without rays, the cities without parks, the gardens without

 

Grass? Is love intoxicating? The houses at Piazza della Signoria

Are still conscious of their eminence. The stone David as well.

We exchange looks and search for the real words in the non-existent time.

 

 

 

 

13

 

My weary look roams the horizon as I am trying to disengage

From the inner milling of thoughts where, among the friction of stone

Words, I have forgotten my own vision. Rowdily the flocks of jaunty jackdaws

Are flying above the ruins of saltworks houses, where they are hiding their safe

 

Nesting places and lustfully choosing the purest hunting grounds.

As soon as they meet an obstacle, objecting their taste, they screamingly

Dart up and in small uniform charging groups land on

The next dune. There they rummage on the ground, then slightly

 

Lift themselves and repeat everything over and over again. I lay hold of

Their self-confident moves and freedom and flat land. In the blazing

Distance, on the swaying waves of wide spread wings the picture is clear,

 

I see how quickly a day sets, how quickly life goes by. Now

I am sailing along the green eyes on the shores of history. In the canopy of sky

The domesticated stars, pure, reposed read their poetry to me.

 

 

 

 

14

 

The view on both sides reaches miles away, more so, because the path ascends.

The far away houses are like dots on the horizon, seemingly not much bigger

Than little boxes. I am walking through the sad night, the dark stormy

Clouds far away in front of me thunder now and again, unsettling me.

 

It is as if my life suddenly abandoned the trodden

Path and struck a new direction. Before dawn somebody is carefully raking

The ground. He is raking and leaving deep, straight and slender

Traces behind. The day advances, the warmth spreads and the leaves become

 

Dark green. The red plums are mellowing and sweetening, the pears are ripening.

I reach for the grapes. Delicious, big bunches of grapes. My tongue passionately

Sips and licks the sweetness. The dew on the barberry bush has a golden glow

 

in the first sunrays. I have never seen such a morning. I have never

Been so touched by light. The awareness that the sky is not empty, but

Staring with silent joy at each new climax in space, is soothing. You are somewhere.

 

 

 

Translated from Slovenian by Andreja Stajnko

 

 

 

Slovenian (gajica)

Slovenian (bohorichica)