:: Article

Five Poems

By András Gerevich.

Tiresias’s Confession

“Sometimes I wake from dreams
and I have no idea what I am,
old or young, boy or girl.

I have to touch myself
to check: the only evidence is
my sweating body in the damp bed.”

Tiresias sat facing me. He’d been
walking his dog , I’d been running.
Both of us slumped on a bench.

“It has long ceased to matter whether
it is light or dark. The inner clock
that knew the time of day has stopped.

It’s years since I lived in the present,
only in prophecies and myths;
I can’t find my way in the street.”

He lit a cigarette and scratched his dog
behind the ear. “András, if I could
talk about it, just this once perhaps…

in my dreams I am always a woman,
wild and desirable, and wholly out of reach,
adored and admired by men.

I play with my breasts in my dreams,
my skin soft and delicate. Light trembles
throughout the entire dream-sequence.”

He scratched his shin with his white stick,
the skin was peeling off his hands, his face,
the dog had found a hedgehog to play with.

“The loveliest time of my life seems
So short, a matter of minutes now.
It was when men still desired me.

He gave a deep sigh, spat and looked away.
“If you enjoy being a man be careful,
you could at anytime turn into a woman.

The line between the two is too narrow.
Perhaps if I become pregnant,
I would still be a woman, a mother.”

Translated by George Szirtes

A Gift

That evening we didn’t speak a word.
I turned the light off early, to avoid his eyes.
He slept in the bed, while I, on a mattress,
stared at the ceiling, tossed and turned,
went out on the balcony to smoke,
and listened to his familiar heavy breaths.
When I woke up, the bed was empty,
the blanket lay crumpled up on the floor
and his clothes had vanished from the chair.
He took his books from the shelf, too,
and his face creams from the bathroom.
But I could still catch a waft of his deodorant,
the towel was still damp and a little warm,
and in the kitchen, a coffee awaited me.

Translated by David Hill


On Sunday we escaped to play in the woods:
We ran, my head humming with birdsong,
Bees and bugs fizzed about my face,
We hid behind shrubs, behind tree trunks
To spy on strangers as they walked by.

The sun shone green through the swaying branches,
We played tag, pretended to be outlaws;
We clambered up rocks: I was harder
Than stone; quicker and slicker than snakes.
But sand got into my shoes, between my teeth.

I was up to my knees in dead leaves,
The mulsh thick with ants, almost heaving
And crackling, as if the skulls of a whole flock
Of dead birds were crushed under the foliage –
I threw myself headlong although I was frightened.

Let darkness cover me, I could feel the damp earth
Beneath it, knew its raw stench. I was cold
And stood up, snow melted on my face and ran
Under my clothes. As it froze to my skin
It compressed me, snow covered me, my body was snow.

Translated by George Szirtes

Family chronometer

Letting my cocoa drip into the sea
I watched the sweet brown drops dissolve
in the calm, transparent, salty Adriatic,
then vanish in the space of a moment.
‘Today I’ve reached the age,’
my mother said as we finished breakfast,
‘my own mother was the day she died.’
I dived off a cliff into the water.
Last year I too knew the exact day
(I’d worked it out weeks in advance)
I reached the age my father
was when I was born.
It was a boring weekday, Wednesday,
we sipped morning coffee together in bed,
I felt your stubble when I kissed you,
like the prickly realisation inside me
no-one would upend that sandglass again.

Translated by Christopher White


Half drunk at daybreak, stinking of cigarettes
I slipped into the church, exhausted
after a night spent crushing into parties,
to kneel down before Christ amidst the palms.
A teenager, I loved making such lonely
visits to the empty, noiseless church
so as to send a prayer up for true love.
Because I was secretly in love with my
best friend – torn apart, tortured
with longing for the man in him.
But once I’m through the door today
I can get no further than the grating:
in a car alarm’s scream, the words I cannot find
are like sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

Translated by Christopher White


Andras Gerevich was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1976. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the Eötvös University of Budapest (ELTE), and later studied Creative Writing at Dartmouth College in the USA on a Fulbright Scholarship. His third degree is in Screenwriting from the National Film and Television School in Britain. Gerevich published three books of poems in his native Hungarian: Átadom a pórázt (Handing Over the Leash, 1997), Férfiak (Men, 2005), Barátok (Friends, 2009) and is also published widely in journals. A book of his poems in English translation Tiresias’s Confession, came out in 2008. His work has been translated into over a dozen languages, published in journals and anthologies, and taken part in a number of international literary and poetry festivals. He was editor for two literary journals: Kalligram in Budapest and Chroma in London, a producer for a radio program: ‘Poetry by Post’ for the BBC World Sevice, and is vice-president of the Hungarian Belletrist Association.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Tuesday, February 21st, 2012.