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Down the steps

András Kornai
Oh how he called it quits, not recognizingtranslation of A lépcsős utcán lefelé (In: Nádasdy Ádám, Komolyabb versek [More serious poems] 1984)
that I was shaped so outrageously daring
by the same forces that formed him, and when he
turns me away it’s not that he’s being superior
it’s just I’m being brave. He never asked for me,
just subjected himself to my presence
(we had the same background) and I was explaining,
in a steady tone, why evenings were bad and mornings were bad,
that the only time conquered by method is the night,
when I can have myself outside of me,
oh how he tossed me out, with no safety line,
the pavement shakes, the chesnut tree quakes,
he crushed the words in my chest, made them
disappear from my mind, how could I explain
in a friendly tone, that afternoons
are sinister; what do I care if the neighbor saw me
crawling out beaten to pulp and continue for myself:
mornings require patience, fortitude, continuing
as I tumble down the steps, that noon is the pits,
no, he didn’t worry about me, he tossed me out,
paying no attention that I had not the slightest aversion
to him, that my coming to him amounts to admitting
that nights are often problematic; oh how you quit,
how you squeezed my heart, the stone stairs are
loose, the handrail insecure, and if night
passes with great trouble, the dawn will still break,
as I’m rolling down the stairy pavement
how could I decide which of us is damned.
cover picture by László Balkányi