Mouse, leaf, snake and bird –
out of the ring of their changes, what calls
(whispering, rustling, hissing)
has fashioned everything around. Rust
on wiring is swallowed by the sun each moment,
then clouds and noise knit it back again.
Buck-bushes, lean elders are lying round,
left to the light’s great vultures long ago,
and even they seem to have drifted off.
A wayward bolt of lightning twists a bush.
The sky is white, slippery, grading into grain –
on the right, it rises with the slope,
on the left, it swoops carefully down over the streets,
an even blue, all roar and thunder.
The sparks and shadows in between the pear-trees
net my whole vision, as they would a beast,
a small way off, down where the balls roll to a stop.
In space and time, a tree divides the downpour
as metre does the low, muddy murmurs
above the swirls of slag that run and flow
over the hardened en tout cas, baked like tiles.
You cannot hold it in you, not for a moment,
this hissing, gradual rustle of a word, the thing
so bare your eyes are watching (or maybe only
drifting over) – just as you would
something which, say, shunts into the hand,
takes up the strange rhythm, and fires it into stone.
The sand is mixed with twists of ivy
and trilling wire. There’s a pole on which
a branch of acacia is firmly fixed,
and into this there thrusts the grey-white line
of an unseen aeroplane. The rain went quiet, suddenly,
without cause – like an exact lethargic machine.
And from everywhere now the small glossy machines.
Translated from the Czech by Justin Quinn