Saturday, November 10, 2012

Miroslav Holub

The Pedestrian: Lower West Side, New York

At six thirty every night
he walks down Bleecker Street
stopping to look at a print
in a shop window: The Last Judgement.

At six thirty-eight he crosses 
Bedford Street, going towards
St Luke's, stops at the corner
to stare intently
at rush-hour traffic.

Then he slips into Wendy's
and points to a Coke, but
they won't let him have it,
every day, no day.

At six fifty he falls to his knees
at the corner of Hudson and Clarkson
in front of the sidewalk signboard
for Spicer's Pet Shop
(Dogs, Cats, Aquarium Accessories).

For twenty minutes,
hands crossed on his chest,
he prays, either to Spicer,
or to the dogs, 
or to the cats, 
or to the fish,
or to New York,
or to the giant mouse of darkness
which has ten thousand eyes
in twenty-eight floors.

At seven fifteen,
soul purified,
he returns to his hotel,
where blue roses bloom on the walls
like blows from fists,
and Ra, the Egyptian god,
wearing the head of a jackal,
stares down from overhead.

--Miroslav Holub

[from Vanishing Lung Syndrome, 1990;
trans. David Young and Dana Hábová]


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