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Kārlis Vērdiņš

Kārlis Vērdiņš

At some performance

On tiptoe, head lowered, drawn into my shoulders, I come to offer you my
          trivial gifts
Young men on the stage, clutching their crotches, slowly moving tanned thighs.
          Aisles crowded between rows, dogs chase herds up to the balconies, not looking
          at me, but also not sending me away.
I can't make out who is the big chief here, to whom I can say, just for a moment
          allow me up there, under the lights, to show what blankets I know how to crochet,
          what baskets I know how to weave.
I start to squeeze through to where the sweet music is playing, but tear the largest
          bag and everything scatters to the floor. While I save what can be saved
I see — some pig is gnawing at a small basket, cows are trampling the white
          blankets, all around trumpets trill, toot and blare.
I feel tears coming on and get ready to ask, who is the big chief here and who is it
          who will pay for the damage, when someone on stage throws a bottle and hits
          me straight in the face.
Black circles form in front of my eyes, I fall ass backwards between rows. From the corner
          of my eye I still see, how a young man mid-stage lifts his arms in a sign of victory.


. . .you had an even higher temperature, so you would forever lie in
          our old bed helpless as a blind puppy. Shove a thermometer in your mouth
          and sleep.
Without evil, sneaky friends, odd and distant parents,
          important work — I'll be your mother, father, brother, wife and
          husband. Through chicken pox, pneumonia, psychosis, neurosis,
          mumps or measles.
Talk to me. Tickle me. Tell me your thoughts.

Internal Procedures

I didn't talk back, I just looked and kept silent, sighed, sat down at
          my desk. Moreover I didn't say much to others, only to some
          I said what I myself thought
No one really asked me, everything was done on the quiet and afterward nothing
          could be changed.
Only later I heard someone had said everything would be different in the future —
          all would be explained beforehand, some would even be shown how, and
          we were not to discuss it among ourselves and, God forbid, say anything
          outside. So I told the others, but someone was stupid enough to go and
          ask if that was really what was about to happen.
Now everyone is very angry at us, we'll have hell to pay. I'm somewhat
          saddened by it, but I didn't say so out loud. I just sat in our
          room at my desk, when she entered and glanced round, and
          on leaving said “There's no one here.”


It's no longer snowing, but the rain has come. You walk through your large house,
          close the windows and turn off the lights — an Art Nouveau paradise of calm, where
          no sharp smell or noise can enter.
But rain — a sudden, sharp downpour — breaks in on you through the secure roof
          and several stories. A damp breath touches you, a whisper, too, of paper
          mounds in the corners of the room.
Surprised and naked you fall to your knees, so the rain can whip your cheeks and
          leave hot streaks on your chest.
But someone in heaven again is frightened and draws the zipper shut. You stay put
          in stifling dryness, in a small country, where people on holidays crawl
          into parquet cracks to vanish God knows where, where your name is mispronounced and
          no one knows how to write properly.
You fall asleep alone in the big bed at twilight, having drawn over the window white
          curtains. Outside buds swell, in-line skates clack and at the sale
          your warm winter jacket costs just half of half-price.

Translated by Margita Gailitis