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This poem is taken from PN Review 123, Volume 25 Number 1, September - October 1998.

Three Poems (translated by James Sutherland-Smith and Martin Solotruk) Ján Ondrus


First Moon

1

All night long
you wash the moon from your face, you do not wash it way, alas

With my face I am the moon,
I draw up water in the wells,

nothing, not even darkness, can help me.


2

Where's the error, bow down and kneel, moon,
the first moon among people,

and in tying a shoe-lace
there's a knot, a blank space, a perplexing

criss-crossing of cords, a point at which
story and chance end, a fatal imprecision
as with doses of morphine or grief
and matters of conscience, virtue, secrecy and beauty
bring you to your knees:

Why, moon,
have you slept so little?

Why do you hide away
within yourself?

Are you guilty?
...


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