hidden subtitles

by Mária Ferenčuhová

hidden subtitles

× × ×

I didn’t say what I expected to: what I’d lifted

the receiver for. I just laughed. between one cold

finger and the next — between thumb and index

— I twisted the glass stem. looked at my feet

dipped into water. a green reflection: an excessive

movement: towel. room. lamp. darkness.

in two countries live a silent and a screaming

reality: right and left profiles of banality. and

between them a face that belongs to no one.

emails and letters are written without flourish.

the radio is switched on, by turns silently and

loud. I disconnect the phone. the noise does not

subside: more and more windows light up in the

house opposite.


× × ×

a/ with the same pen, with the same blue colour:

I even recognise the writing. the slowness of the

typewriter, in extending the leg, in the slope of

the instep, in the quality of silence. the sound of

a carefully turned page: paper snagged on the

edge of the sleeve.

b/ I can’t explore other people’s balconies

endlessly. to compare blue with grey and to

squander each new sleep in a disquieting

investigation, wanting to know if the distant

foot of the hill has vanished too. if I am deeper

and deeper within.

c/ to put in the envelope, after signing. to clean

the shoe first on the kerb, then on the lawn.

to check the nameplate on the door. to lock it.

possibly to air the room again.


× × ×

if they tell you: she left tragically,

you picture at least a dull explosion, scattered

inanimate parts of furniture, smudged pavements,

or at least shreds of a weathered cardboard box

stuck on the windscreen,

if they tell you: fish were the first to stop looking,

you don’t know what to imagine,

they have no idea what to tell you,

they have no idea what effect it can have on you



× × ×

m. z.

shake me. pass through me.

on the bark, on the light. turn me over on my

stomach. still walking. insert me between two

sides. sew me up.

drink me down with water. make me cosy.

vertical. pre-prepare. jump over in the reflection.

tell anyone about me. disperse. set words on

me, silence me. soothe me. draw me in the

waiting room. make good use of what you’ve


speech slips out from behind both of us. I am

pasting you in. … to follow the linear story of

the lived first at the place where it passively

succumbs: country after cataclysm, volcano

© Mária Ferenčuhová, translated by Marián Andričík