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  • Two Poems
  • Aleš Šteger (bio)
    Translations from Slovenian by Brian Henry

the sun walks behind me

Today is every Monday.Tonight we'll be on our way again.I love and am the wordsTo the sun, which walks, which walks.

Today is every Monday,Another body goes into the mud.I am a seed.The sun walks behind me.

More persistent than dust and weed,I'm free to disappear into the unknown.Increasingly quiet, increasingly bold.The sun walks behind me.

I love you by the light of the night.I love, for I'm an exile.I love in complete darkness.The sun walks behind me.

When grass awakes againAnd the river whispers in harmony,When I, when we are gone,The sun walks behind me.

Today is every Monday,Tonight you'll be on your way again.Go through complete darknessToward the sun, which walks, which walks. [End Page 147]


An unexpected cooling. A chain of Alpine peaks in the distanceAnd a hallucinogenic moon that hangs all day in the west.You can feel it. Pressing like the solitary coin in your pocket.The cashier pushed it toward you under the window,Together with a ticket for the Ptuj–Pragersko–Ljubljana train.The hole in the route tells you that somewhere a mistake has occurred.Somewhere it's possible to return in time,Erase yourself from the path you traveled,Correct the route, begin again,You, abandoned in the monotonous sadness of the rails, turned backward,Quiet in the space and time you just left.You lean your head against the rattling window, close your eyes.

In the middle of your forehead there's a resin markThat a forester made with the swift blow of an axe on a crooked oak's trunk.Lumberjacks are already coming through patches of snow and decaying leaves.Squeezed into the knots of their bodies, with an unbearable longing for treetopsThat makes their lips crack and sting.They come when the trees are bare and asleepAnd the bark doesn't sense the chainsaws' thirst.The amputation occurs in frozen silence.A child cuts his cake. The smell of gasoline goes quietAnd a giant's silent fall rustles through the air.

When the roots stir,There will be only the faded marks of tractor tiresAnd a trunk's black trace in the undergrowth to recallWhom they nourished so they could reach the sky through them.Ptuj–Pragersko–Ljubljana.Only one who departs among stumps knows the meaning of exile.Everywhere unexpected coolings.Chain marks on the stacked logs. Full moon. [End Page 148]

Aleš Šteger

Aleš Šteger has published seven books of poetry, three novels, and two books of essays. He has published four books in English: The Book of Things, which was a Lannan Foundation selection and winner of the Best Translated Book Award; Berlin, a collection of lyric essays; Essential Baggage, a book of prose poems; and Absolution, a novel. His awards include the French Chevalier des Artes et Lettres, the Veronika Prize for the best Slovenian poetry book, the Rožanč Award for the best Slovenian book of essays, and the International Bienek Prize.

Brian Henry

Brian Henry is the author of ten books of poetry, including Static & Snow. He coedited the international magazine Verse from 1995 to 2017 and established the Tomaž Šalamun Prize in 2015. His translation of Aleš Šteger's The Book of Things won the Best Translated Book Award. His poetry and translations have received such honors as an NEA fellowship, the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, the Carole Weinstein Poetry Prize, and a Slovenian Academy of Arts and Sciences grant.



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