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The Time Before Language (selection)

Monika Herceg
translated by Robert Isaf

PROPOSITION CONCERNING NEST

Morning swaddles our breath with mist
and goes down the electric river,
demanding that we warm his trampled fingers,
lend him the tree’s grace or day’s roundness
And out back behind the forest of infallible oak grows
and loud moss within which north reflects
Out back bold foxes’ offspring wait for darkness to open its eyes,
for unfinished sentences to ambush us and form a circle of us

For there is always something grows behind your back preparing silence,
always someone somewhere turning painlessly in sleep
on his own wings and having forgotten he can fly
someone somewhere dying notwithstanding that he lived
like a chair unused that had been ripped out from its beech heart

For there is always someone multiplying silence,
someone filling days with waiting, and
who suddenly, like an oblivious butterfly,
full speed gets right up face first in glass
and wrecking a galaxy with a glance decides to love

PROPOSITION CONCERNING THE ATTEMPT TO IMPOSE UPON YOU LIGHT’S SHAPE

To whom I shall give recognition:
we only held insomnia in common,
not lessening each other beside each other
and what now if your hand too quickly disappears through mine

It’s all the same to us, we sort the trash,
we spoil the full fruit as it bursts with ripeness,
we give it, calm as we’ve made it, to others, to learn
from them about the bees that came before them
we eavesdrop sparrows, allow parks settle our lungs,
we love in man his childhood
Embracing trees our arms become their rings
and none of the destruction arrived in line with the routine
according to which we gathered embracings from the bed
like wood for kindling

Behind us all remaining is that light
about which you and I have never spoken:
I watched your grief the way I’ve watched my children
and bandaged its wrists

All remaining is the learned resolve
upon the face I show to human beings
and I pretend that I can speak everything that must be said

PROPOSITION CONCERNING ENCOUNTER

Those people that we were before
someone else came in collisioning our heads
before we shook up universe and universe
and cast across the table panicked planets
which we’ve been living on as all already do,
believing there be easier burdens tomorrow
which time slows through; which time speeds through,
believing there be someone in us surely
saying something in time sufficiently loud
to rouse us from slumber earth to space
of everything there is that can possibly happen
to those that are sufficiently incautious
We were growing old in each our own
small situation buried in appointments
situations that in fact were vast
that honestly conversed kilometers
but we’d not wanted much to know at all
about the surfaces of continents

When a one pain drowned another out,
we have wanted to escape the closeness
which would cast us out from what is real
So docile and so timid we
would have no use for one more world
which we aren’t ready for

Translated by Robert Isaf

Original: Monika Herceg: „Vrijeme prije jezika“. Zaprešić: Fraktura 2020.
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