Krisztina Tóth

Translated from the Hungarian by Terri Carrion and Gábor G. Gyukics


I’m always talking in your dreams,
not in a human tongue, because my voice is different here,
you’ll hear it regardless, when I talk
as you see my face in so many creatures
on the clayey mud of the autumn hillside
it’s impossible to climb back to summer,
but there might be a path,
your eyes are closed, that’s why you need to stand there
watch out, don't step on the black snails,
they draw a map with their marks of crying,
I wish the flood of days won't wash it off,
how else would you come back from there.

Lost, drenched dogs arrive at night,
walk around the house,
outside great dribbling thujas stand in line
and like ghosts sway back and forth
I can hear almost everyone sneaking in
human, animal who went far away
steps into my dream to hold my hand again
the one who once stood up wakefully and let it go,
I patch up your face from their breath,
earth has a scent after the rain,
listening you move your head aside,
you'll knock and I won't mistake you for the rain.

Blind Map

Slithering strata, faces of mountain ranges,
subliminal Mariana Trench, magma in the soul, what for

what are the slanted trees, the migrating crows,
the erratic rivers for, they live, die out,
penguins on ice floes,

what for
the swimming clouds of the torn DNA chains,
the closed eyes currents of the waters
if they cannot find

a course, it’s dragging its constantly sad route
and wherever he reaches it’s a war,
Death plows a gutter,

the world doesn't need to be
jumbled up with names,
birth and love spasmodic screams:

cities, ventriloquial fate,
corrie of remembrance, living
lines, see

how all circle and none has a route,
it’s always the mothers who give birth to orphancy

The Lover’s Dream

I applied to become a castle guard, the people in his house were pretty,
like himself: his children were blond and tall.
The house lay on a hillside, at the end of a shaded street.
They waved in front of the fence, waiting.

Their dog used to be mine. I brought a drawing
showing them how the dog once looked.
We loved each other. Planning for all of us
to live together in tea-color quietude.

The wife was blind, scrubbing the white stairs.
He pointed at her saying, my wife.
The way he leaned down to her, showed his back as tender,
I was waiting for him to walk me up to the attic.

When I lived with them I carried parasols to the garden,
that was my job, and to watch over their children,
while I loved him day and night beyond measure
walking up and down the white stairs.

Then one day the storm came, I carried the toys and pillows
inside to the terrace from the garden
and as if someone is looking up from an empty book
I realized suddenly that’s all to no avail.

So I cut their heads off and placed them in washed out jars
carefully, all facing forward on the edges of the marble staircase,
paying attention not to spill
the blood onto the stone.

I cried too, I think, but I knew I wasn’t insane,
that it was his stare that turned the screw, and it hurt
that I could never again see his gaudy, sweat-spangled forehead
that was glorified by procreation.

Krisztina Tóth (b. 1967 in Budapest) is a poet, writer, translator, glass artist, and author of 13 books of original poetry. She is one of the most highly acclaimed living Hungarian writers and the winner of numerous literary awards. Her poetry and prose have been translated into more than fifteen languages.

Terri Carrion was born in New York to a Galician mother and Cuban father. Her work has appeared and disappeared in print and online. She is co-founder of the global grassroots movement, 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

Gábor G. Gyukics has authored 11 books of poetry in Hungarian, English, Arabic, Bulgarian, and Czech; 11 books of translations, including A Transparent Lion, the poetry of Attila J車zsef; Swimming in the Ground: Hungarian Poetry in English, and an anthology of North American Indigenous poets translated into Hungarian.

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