Tóth Krisztina költő, író, műfordító

Fotó: Bulla Bea     

Translations by Ottilie Mulzet, 2006




In the stagnant pools dead water
You shadow-pendulum the breeze
The clatter of swings in Lichthof
A child drying off

And all at once speaking
And splashing in the wash
Dead time flows on
From the clothes, the word


Machine Voice

For beyond the beyond of your earthly time

it wasn’t you for so long, for I saw you, I saw you
a dead person’s voice on your answering machine
but I couldn’t stop

to call you back, call you back again

on your way for so long already and you could not stop
nor body nor voice, only a form going away
anyone could have spoken, you wouldn’t turned back
still I couldn’t stop
calling you back, to call you back again

nor body nor voice, only a form going away
beyond the beyond of your earthly time
I called out to you one time in vain
a dead person spoke to your answering machine
still I could not stop

to call you back, calling you back again
anyone could have spoken, you didn’t turn around
for beyond the beyond of your earthly time
you traveled for so long and couldn’t stop
I called, called out to you in vain


The Mouse

For Zsuzsa Beney

In the book of the poet who lives no more,
next to a verse where he writes of a woman,
(she too lives no more) like a marigold
is preserved the pawprint of my cat:

stealthily creeping there, for the crack
between the pages was always exciting,
waiting for the mouse at once to come out,
(the cat too has long since gone missing)

and truly there in the depths of the paper’s secret
tunnel, something flutters, incessant:
something we have left between the leaves
the accidental there impressed.



I set about to put everything in order:

to mow the lawn, but first I had
to disentangle the twenty-five metres of extension cord.

One end I tied to an arbor vitae

(Oh, how the route passes from soul to soul)
with another (there were at least four).
I headed back to the house.
Evening closed in around me and I gave up.
Stay – I stood there – stay as it is,
let it grow ever further and scatter forth,
growing onto the sky, may the shadowgrass
scatter forth its seeds,
which I myself have cast.



We went too far again, forgot to turn
to the right, I never was good
with directions, for I was dreaming, you know,
like the ant straying into the vacuum cleaner, I always went
only the light
showed the way, it was a right turn
that we should have taken, too late, but you know,

no matter where, all the roads
will lead back home.


Full Moon

It is suffocating midnight, the crickets start up
the bathing suits are drying outside.
Behind the geraniums
a silhouette keeps vigil
in a nightshirt drenched with sweat.

Strange, white-balconied houses
approach, pulling into the tiny street,
stopping, perhaps this is the wrong way,

perhaps another car

is parked in the gravelled courtyard.

Looks around, pale, tottering,
then the motor wails up in the throat.

Brow cast upon the intercom:

the residents upstairs are disturbed
by the solitary, luminous head.


Taking away, taking away

Please don’t take
the curtain which we together –

and please do take
the bed where we together –

and please leave behind
the picture where we together –

— and the ladder, because I can’t get at it
with my mind, that now they’re taking
the bed

Panting and wheezing, they carry
the coffin for two,
and it hardly fits
through the door. You go after them,
the reclining clothes
in your arms: as if
you were lifting
the swooning bride
the threshold.


Tram Depot


Just how long did you think this could last?
Back up, it’s a one-way street.
Cap in hand, the drunkard sways,
it’s dawn, he knows he has to leave,
just like that, into the nylon-coloured mist
the drowsy headlights, instead of which
the cigarette burns, to the ground drifts,
silence, and growing numb (do you love me still),
(you absolute idiot), I shouldn’t be here,
nothing moves in the evening snow,
the windshield wiper jams (I leave the car),
no need, he says, to rush (that’s fine by me),
next to the sidewalk a glove, maybe someone lost it,

stretched onto a jutting tree-branch.
Like a frozen corpse playing the piano.
You shake it off, pull it halfway onto your hand.



Someone just returned home, threw down
the backpack in the front hall
and clutching in the left hand, numb with cold,
the right-hand glove: you weren’t far off
your absence whispered to me somehow –

— if he’d turned around, he would have found it:
there it was, in front of the house, fallen into the snow,
there on top of the small cupboard was its mate.
(For years I lived only a hundred metres away,
the accidental music could be heard
in our airshaft. At midnight I would gaze
into the falling snow, the streetlamps’ light,
maybe I saw you too there: so many faces
turning through dreams, until that one
with its twisting details in your troubled sleep,
so that upon awakening you will forget:


Two people stand in an unheated room,
the snow is falling and the chandelier gleams.
Let one of them be myself, so I might better see
who the other, standing in a coat, might be –

I know, however, why he came
for the film has broken off in one frame:

Trams in the Midnight Depot,
then he leant against the wall and I against him…
… a few minutes ago a piercing siren
encrusted onto the dreamlike background
something throbbing, door or window opening,
freezing, awakening to the pain

that underneath his head is a living glove
sleeping bloodless and insensible:
to whom it belongs, to whom this body is true,
if as a detail it is lost to the whole.

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