Miroslav Holub


On the Building Site of a Hostel

Among pools of earth,
in a chain reaction of bricks,
between the decaying milk-teeth of concrete blocks

has just been hatched
a grey, two-phase

(Wipe your feet)

a dignified museum
of the gall stones
of emptiness.

(Quiet please)

Fingers of piping explore the hollows
and the Monday morning howl
is everywhere.

(No spitting)

Above the bunk
a single bulb rages
from a concrete sky.

And on a nail
driven into flesh
shipwrecked socks and brassières
are drying.

(No sliding in the corridors)

We met
staring girls’ eyes,
wandering like bugs over the plaster
and we asked,
what is love
shall we soon be young?

Notes on this poem

Please note that these translations were later revised, and can be found in Miroslav Holub: Poems Before and After (Bloodaxe Books, 1990), reproduced here by permission of Bloodaxe Books.