I'm the fruit whose skin breaks,
a container grabbed with a crane.
Gulls are bloodthirsty and hungry.
Their plucked feathers descend
as I climb. Booms, silky booms
in the frozen boat's throat, between
the sliding rusty doors of the tanker.
What do I do here if my seal breaks?
How should I grease my black and blue shoulders?
Hey, little stoker, I squeezed your head
under the ceiling for I started to breathe.
Your limbs smashed on brown metal
cannot be washed away. A mosquito is caught in oil.
They nail the box Illyria on a stick
and when the lid is pressed to the ceiling
where should it go if not inside? You resemble
an old fly's turd looking partly gray on a light bulb.
Shall we throw spears? I don't have a tool.
And the huge trunk with a pulley coming closer
owns nothing. I'm shifted around.
Machines are putting me on the other dock.
And from there a train through
dark tunnels and damp gorges
or in the sun, sun among wheat spikes,
an hour before the arch goes out and the lights
of cars and houses ignite. How should I
remember you, little stoker. I'm almost
unloaded. Only a lintel or two,
only a distance traveled on foot and then
that closeness with the heart shown by your
hand. A span. A span. You slap wood
as if a piano, you measure the tone.
Such sweet sounds Pythagoras takes.
—translated from the Slovenian by the author and Peter Richards
To read another poem by Tomaz Salamun, please click here to purchase JUBILAT 5