Selected Poems

by Pavel Kolmačka

Translated from the Czech by Nathan Fields

LIVING IN HARMONY

even with blossoming trees.

We shout, we laugh,

we carry, we lift,

we load hives, lids, pedestals,

we tighten straps

and drive in wedges.

We prepare for a trip

to the orchard.

And we’re driving.

Around the curve the clamping belt strap snaps, the superstructure

shifts. The bees rush out. We stop, Tobiáš

helps with the repair, he is instantly covered in stingers, red 

all over and swelling and panting.

I disconnect the car. We leave Benjamin with the bees by the

road. And we’re driving. They keep Toby in the hospital.

He clutches his head – but he has to submit his work

the day after tomorrow! I bring him his computer, discs, I drive from the hospital

home and from home to the hospital. How do you reckon Benjamin’s doing

there by the road?

He greets me, exhausted from the curiosity of passers-by, questioned

by the police, patient and worried. We hook up the trailer and we’re driving.

We’re driving, always driving.


“IT WAS NO ALLERGY, dad, it was no matter of coincidence or defect.

It was a leg inside that tripped me.

I love you, but I can’t go on living here.”

“And I also wanted to write you this:

Last night I dreamed

that our house was falling apart and crumbling

from the ravages of time, the elements, decay,

I was so worried about you, dad,

I was thinking about you so much

and I’m thinking about you now, too,

I would like to be with you.”

(Strong winds those days tore off the side of the gate.

It didn’t hurt anyone,

it fell into the driveway

on bales of straw.)


JEEP AT THE BEE-HIVES ON THE HILL

far from people

it won’t budge again,

it won’t turn over,

starter’s burnt.

The countryside,

silence,

the crater.


WE BROUGHT DAD OVER. He walks around the house, around the garden,

not speaking. He doesn’t want to build anything anymore, sow, think about

the future. Now he just watches.

In the evening he starts to speak, talking about his father, his mother, about his mother’s

father, about childhood pains and games, he is very concentrated

in another time.


He looks at us: “Where am I now?”

He points at Jane: “And her?”

A moment later: “She belong to you?”

Be born, inhale, taste eternity.

It’s warming up, the white

blossoming tree buzzes,

promising cherries.


AS IF WE HAD BEEN HERE ONCE BEFORE:

That water in the grip of slopes, walls.

Maybe we’ve reached the end, almost at the goal,

now just to run over the bridge.


“I’m so glad you’ve come, my son. Here they were saying

you’d died. Who? You know, those voices I hear.

Listen! They’re speaking now! As clear as when

you speak.

You cannot imagine what I have suffered. My heart

burst, that’s why they brought me in. Blood was spurting from my chest

like from a busted pipe. They gave me an infusion, and I

heard them shouting over me: Stop it! Stop

it! She’s already dead anyway! And someone else argued: She’s still

breathing! Let’s keep going! She’s breathing! She’s not breathing!

She’s breathing! She’s still alive!

It was horrible.

I had seven antennas inside me, they observed me with them.

They cut them all out of me, as you see, but they watch me

anyway, even now they’re talking about me.

It’s a lot for a person. I have to go lie down again.

The pills make me dizzy.

But look, that park out the window! Those trees! Those

glorious bushes! The green grass!

I can’t stop looking at it! Until I’m all seized up inside!

Such beauty.”

Caitlyn Garcia