Sunday, November 17, 2013

As Best We Can

—Photo by Robert Lee Haycock, Antioch

—Anna Hajnal (1907-1977)

Twilight.  By now the genial sea of dusk
is lapping at the window.  A rising tide
bears the plane tree aloft and far away.
Above these undulations of the sky
on silky wings the wild goose floats unseen.
His cries we hear, and hear again
until the waves of dust rise over him,
but where will he be then?  Where does he fly
southward with his strong companions?

How many planes and levels deep does dusk
hover in autumn?  Deeper than the sea
where the wild saffron, purple sea-star blooms,
down to the cellar where the silken mole,
hardworking and secure, lives with his brood.
It seeps where the snake is drowsing amid dead leaves.

The dusk flows past us, turns on wings
noiseless as fins,
the owl, his eyes like bulbs, drifts by, a fish with ears;
the bat's wings wriggle like a slowly-swimming skate,
we grow sleepy too but cannot hang
head-downward from the plane tree's hollow all the winter long—
we know what would be good,
we live as best we can.

(trans. from the Hungarian by Daniel Hoffman)