TRANSLATED BY BRIAN HENRY
Who mediates for you? A wandering cloud stops embodying the sky time and again.
Although the tufts of hair, limbs, and individual bodies of these foamy worlds seem for a
moment inevitably solid in the blue.
Zephyrs break up the mist in the streets. Four half of six. Stations, terminals, platforms
and morgues, saturated with waiting.
October winks. The auditory hallucinations of the ocean breeze still hum around dirty
ears. On the avenue, dandruff covertly falls onto the shoulders of a man who taps a
cigarette onto fallen leaves and calculates traffic connections. So many possibilities, so
many variables, so many sums, but they all lead to Raron.
Seven fifteen to one-eighth. I travel like the blue between clouds. I am, the middle-man
is told, a pedologist between strata. Volatile I and his better double, Mister Like.
Mister? Like a fetus in formaldehyde.
We lay one another in encyclopedias and urns. I also wear a little time. A little onion,
which blunt fingers spasmodically squeeze in the perforated pocket in my coat. Will it
cry out, my little nursery rhyme without a center and without assistance?
I travel through a delineated everywhere and everywhere the mystery of the Arabic
number zero. The sum of zero and negative sky is zero. The sum of zero and positive
soil is zero. The sum of zero and zero is, more and more, me.
Translated from the Slovenian by Brian Henry and Urška Charney
from The Book of Bodies (2010)
Aleš Šteger has published six books of poetry, two novels, and two books of essays in Slovenian. He received the 1998 Veronika Prize for the best Slovenian poetry volume of the year, the 1999 Petrarch Prize for young European authors, and the 2007 Rožanč Award for the best book of essays written in Slovenian. His work has been translated into 14 languages, including German, Czech, Croatian, Hungarian, and Spanish. He is a founding editor of the Beletrina publishing house, and he founded the Medana Days of Poetry and Wine festival. The Book of Things, a volume of poetry translated by Brian Henry, appeared from BOA Editions in 2010 as a Lannan Foundation selection and won the 2011 Best Translated Book Award.
Brian Henry is the author of ten books of poetry, most recently Brother No One. His translation of Aleš Šteger’s The Book of Things appeared from BOA Editions in 2010 and won the Best Translated Book Award. He has received numerous awards for his work, including fellowships from the NEA, the Howard Foundation, and the Slovenian Academy of Arts and Sciences.