Ales Debeljak Faces in Front of the Wall

Humble is the charity of early mornings. Everything that happens then
must happen: to you, to me, to the whole world. Temptation
is great indeed: we gaze, enchanted, as a fire’s eternal glow
melts the columns of cathedrals, a virgin’s slumber, and the hidden

spring of a toy. We watch, motionless, as in a tranquil
family crypt. Each of us, I think, is already doomed. We are silent.
What else could we do? Like a stunned witness in a country
when it was still a country. It lives on, exiled into an image

which won’t let us sleep. Day and night quiver in our pupils. Do we
kneel, hoping the storm will take pity on us and bring a mother’s gentle
forgiveness? That it will blur the line between the altar and the offering?

I guess, I know: there is no greater mistake. Embers cover the fire screen.
Even the blood spilling down a girl’s hip has lost its taste. It doesn’t smell
like plowed soil crumbling in our fingers. In vain we try: we’re less than a footnote.

—translated from Slovenian by Christopher Merrill