Miroslav Holub


Model of a man

Translated by George Theiner

There is always somewhere some bundle
giving off a little smoke, a little blood,
a little wailing and a little singing,
you can hear the trampling of feet, the
flutter of flags,
a button rolls aways, or perhaps a head,
or something,
somebody laughs,
somebody vomits,
somebody says, oh, what’s the use, let’s go ’n have a drink,
somebody says hurrah,
somebody says, why, when I was young,
somebody says, things were different…
the bundle closes,
and again there is a clatter, like when
teeth are being knocked out or someone’s knocking on wood,
the clay twitches like a run-over dog —

And here someone’s leaving,
Hit by lightning or by a pin,
hit by an eight-pound stone,
Hit by a word,
Hit by a stick,
Hit by a neutron,
Hit by stupidity,
Hit by a poisoned arrow,
Hit by a dagger,
Hit by a kick in the pants,
Hit by a hundred times nothing.

He is a long time leaving, a night and a day, another two nights.
He dodges like a crazy raindrop,
Cowers like grass under a spray of water,

A Don Quixote grown wise,
A Roland grown quiet,
A general without badges of rank,
Limp and deflated like a statue of rags,
He seeks a hole, or a hospital or a museum,
But it’s after six and everything’s closed,
Windsor Castle
as well as the rat-farm.

A knife at his back are
his own eyes,
like a heart-beat
he keeps hearing his own voice —

What are they doing
Without me?

And so after those two nights
and a day and a night

He turns
And goes there again.

Just for a while, he says.

But it’s for a lifetime.

We don’t know who he is.
Let’s just call him
A man.

Notes on this poem

Reproduced by permission of Bloodaxe Books