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John Moessner/Sara Hižman: The Shape Of Grief/Oblik žalosti

Image: Unsplash, downloaded ( 20.05.2023.

Original text in English by John Moessner:

Angle of Repose


The forces resisting movement down the slope are grouped

under the term shear strength, which includes frictional resistance

and cohesion among the particles that make up the object.

-“Factors that Influence Slope Stability,” Tulane University


The foothill is not finished

forming, the loose boulders and scree fall prey to gravity,

each loss of material contributes to the shape of a lifetime.

We walked along a path in Arkansas and saw the hanging shelves

of rock walls and hidden streams, dripping, licking the stones

with their secret, wet mouths. The trees had been changing

for a month, four months since your father passed.

There were slow, cool drafts through the underside of the cliff.

You wept in the quiet car ride, three hours from Kansas City.

An underground stream finds daylight and emerges.

Does water evaporate underground? Only the river

that finds the sun can escape into the sky.

I am still not sure how to handle the grief,

It’s been months since we first learned your father’s diagnosis

—the slow boil of hard stone— gravity pulled

down a tree across the path in front of us,

we stepped over the bulge of its trunk. Wet moss,

damp wood, hundreds of bugs seething under the bark,

in the rotted-out places, blackened by mold and lack.

The trip was a chance to get away, you needed rest.

We stopped moving. A deer passed through the brush ahead,

yards between us, and silence. We are still learning

how to be married, to catch falling debris when we break

and lose part of ourselves to the current. Grief, like rain,

like an underground stream pulling at the roots

and weakening the bedrock. You wore a ripped

flannel shirt of mine and green Doc Martins.

The long sleeves dangled off your thin arms.

You wiped your face as we walked. A dam at the end

of the trail, you arrived first and stunned, a whole lake

waiting to break through. I reached you

out of breath. We hadn’t spoken for an hour.


A mountain

on the Fourth of July, 2012, years before

his death, Mount Sherman, a general who burned

Georgia and the South in rage. We started climbing

through a field of larkspur and columbine.

You wanted to lay down and sink into the flora,

become the soil, caught by the weave of roots,

become a thing singular and many.

We crossed a creek, its nameless purity

surfaced from under a mountain

in the valley. An entrance to a mine marked

the mountain’s grief, gutted and carved for its silver,

cancer of the West, lodes running through rock.

It looked like someone blew it up

and scorched all the color from its face,

the mountain more rounded mass than romantic peak.

Some slip of a fault, the earth collapsing on itself.

Growth unchecked, layers of time and the heat

of an unseen fire, the pressure of sliding rock,

two great plates of earth jamming themselves

into each other’s arms. We left the valley’s flowers

and climbed up the loose plates of rock that marked

the true mountain, like shattered pottery, missteps

sent showers of falling rubble down the slope.

The sun reigned the blue sky and we baked in it.

We passed through a dream, then the weight of our bodies

pressed down on our feet. We reached the top and rested

on a ridge where we could look out across the flat peak.

You reached into your pack, bulging with water bottles

and extra clothes. Your hand was stained, you pulled out

a smashed container of bright red raspberries, seedy,

wet pulp, their color popping against the gray of the ground.

Maybe they burst in the altitude, rivers of juice outside their bounds.

You licked your fingers and offered me a smashed pinch

of red mass. It started to snow, the wind blew

tiny, flat flakes, like the ashes of a great fire, burning,

snow on the Fourth of July, snow on top of a mountain,

our sweat chilled our bodies, and we sat looking at the creek

we passed, the valley of flowers, out of focus, miles away.


The Fourth of July, 2016,

We played badminton out front of your house.

The shuttlecock arched over the net, a whack,

then the slow descent of your sister’s racket. You kept

itching your ankles from the grass and I was sweating as the sun

set behind your neighbor’s house. Your father complained

of the fireworks, they were exploding near his window.

He sat waiting for sleep, and the inevitable waking

two hours after. Your mother declined three invitations

from the neighbors to join the block party. Didn’t they know

she was walking on tiptoe around the short fuse

of your father’s temper? The cancer reached

his frontal lobe, traveling up the swift highway

of pumped blood from his lungs. Couldn’t they see

the practiced sadness in her face as she declined

the invitation, once by the mailbox, again as we came home

from dinner, a third while setting up the badminton net?

Amateur flashes of red and blue, bright veins of flame

spreading out from an exploding heart, a slow descent,

the ash and debris singeing, snuffing out on the lawn.

The air smelled like fire and paper burning.

Your father wanted to move to a hotel for the night.

we are getting a room— It wouldn’t be cheap,

I won’t sleep here— The fireworks would stop soon,

why aren’t we leaving yet. They spent a sleepless night

at the hotel, watching TV. Only a slight drifting off,

then up at three, waiting to go back home

to his large loveseat, propped up on risers

so he could stand easily. Sometimes his gum would fall

from his mouth and stick to his shirt.

Your mother was quietly losing her mind. Nursing him

to small levels of comfort, an extra pillow, a handful

of pills, cleaning piss off the toilet. Divided only by small

distances, small naps taken when he was exhausted.

The distance from the living room and the bedroom

when she needed space. She gave him a bell to ring

when they put the hospital bed downstairs.

He rarely went upstairs, only helped up the steps

to be washed by her in the shower, veins of water running

down weak legs. One night he got up three times to pee,

three rings from the bell, three glasses of water afterwards

to wet his dry mouth. Another night, he got up himself

and tried to fix the air pump for the mattress pad.

He could barely breathe at this stage, but berated

the noisy pump anyway. It whirled in the still air

of the curtained living room. New bed, we need a new bed.

His voice was low, and it fought to the surface

through layers of spit and a stone’s-worth of cancer,

with webs of its black growth splintering out.

You can detect urgency by looking into the eyes.

New bed, new phone, new computer. New life—nothing

worked right. The slow movement of a hurricane

taunting the connotations of emergency.

Plenty of time to prepare, plenty of time left,

there is no time left, this is not the man she married.

A rock cleaves along the smallest vein of separation.

The foothill is crumbling. We walked down

the mountain tired and cold, feeling the weight

of a mountain’s worth of climbing squeeze the juice

out of our bodies. The stream was getting closer,

the flowers had their color again. We caught our shallow breaths,

filling up with thin air, and moved on, the mountain grew

small behind us.


Of course if the material forming the flat surface becomes weak

or fails, then the unsupported mass will move downward.

-“Factors that Influence Slope Stability,” Tulane University


You are a natural

disaster. I swim and sink in your grief. Nights

you go to sleep, needing to rise early, enjoying the solitude

of early mornings, a trait you shared with your father.

Our schedules offset, no longer lovers, but roommates,

living in the empty house of each other’s sleep.

Each footstep at night amplified, each creak

stretches and rubs against each still moment. The friction

of living bleeding into your dreams. Sometimes I wake

you and hear the babbled speech of your unconscious.

Are you okay? You are not okay. One night we sit in bed,

you want me to talk you down, or up, from some depth,

I am changing from a long day of teaching.

There is a picture of your father on your dresser

where he’s giving the sign for “I love you,”

meant for his deaf sister, but you hear him saying

those words each day in your head, each day

on your voicemail, and they grind against his absence.

I unbutton my shirt and toss it toward the closet,

it knocks over the frame. You snap—Do you do that every day?

A flash flood is deceptive, you think you see the water rising.

But there is no water, only the deep hush of an old house

waiting for the dam holding everything back to break

from my heavy footfalls. I try not to wake you.


I speak about your parents’

house as if he still lives there. His watches, his car, I speak

about your father’s clothes, as if he still wears them.

I speak about you being your father’s daughter

—Abide with me, fast falls the eventide—

the words from your father’s funeral. I remember

the meetings, the trouble of planning a funeral

while grieving, trying to figure out songs and readings.

We were home, caught under the weight of him, caught

in the flux and movement of two large shelves of rock,

pushing against each other, slipping underneath.

Caught in the unidentifiable space between tenses,

our tongues not yet adjusted to the past, his body, his death.

The cat refuses food, touch, us. How do you console a grieving cat?

I remember the heft of the box they put his urn into,

buckling it into the back seat of the car during the drive

home from church. How did they get him into the urn?

Can you pour a body like liquid? Did they do it gently,

or did their hands shake with the weight of a life?

Are the properties of ash more similar to fire or stone?


But for the moment everything's an ache

Deferred, foreknown, imagined and most real.

-Seamus Heaney


You traveled home

the day he died. You were heading to give your mother

a break, miles of asphalt snaked between our two houses,

measuring the distance between childhood and adulthood.

He was in a hospice room, lying in bed, a room he walked into

on his own volition. The pain started, and the requests.

I know they have the drugs, please, just let me end it.

Your mother told him that was illegal, I don’t care,

the nurses know where the drugs are. His legs swelled

with neglect, purple and smooth, his skin taut,

and blotchy no longer hiding the blue tangle

of his veins, they gave him enough drugs to slip

into unresponsiveness. His body convulsed

with the respirator.


Vermont, our honeymoon,

two years before his death. We decided to climb Mount Abraham

and set off through the forested growth of the Green Mountains,

it was wet, and lush, like walking into the yawning mouth

of a tree. We could feel the water in the air as our legs burned.

We reached the end of the forest and scrambled over

smooth rock. The top was bald and exposed.

You wish I liked to hike more, but I did not enjoy it.

On our way down we watched tree trunks pass by,

and were caught off guard by a small stream.

There was no stream on the way up. We continued down, lost.

My legs burned with panic. The sun was setting

and droplets of water pinged the arching arms of pine trees.

They danced and waved, you thought it was beautiful,

I admired your calm. An hour passed like wind through the trees,

the absence of any other noise but my heavy breathing.

We will remember this for the rest of our lives.


February, seven months

since he died, and I was teaching at the university.

I came home at noon to find the door kicked in.

The splinters of jamb and the Christmas wreath littered

the floor, along with clothes from our dresser,

a busted lamp. I walked in with my key outstretched

like an offering, shaking, I slowly pushed in,

then backpedaled to the porch, stuck between.

The full weight of loss takes time to sink in. Our brains

are not prepared for it, like trying to find what’s wrong

with a picture you have looked at every day, searching

for any detail to seem shifted or strange, questioning

everything, was it like this before? Or maybe

the picture was stolen. The TV, computer, watches, jewelry,

my clothes. I imagine them slipping a shirt over their heads,

feeling the body of fabric open up and settle onto their torsos,

finding it wanting, or perfect with pre-worn give. They stole

the hard drive your dad gave you filled with home movies.

The Christmas before he died, we watched them

at your parents’ house. You curled up on the couch

you slept on in high school when you were sick. Your dad

would get up at three and move your stubborn sleep-self to bed.

You were addicted to it, the crying, laughing, snot.

In a world where it is difficult to be happy, sadness offers a kind

of grounding, lets you know yourself, how deep the river

runs, and how far you have to swim to surface.


Breath leaves the body

every moment and comes back with numbing regularity.

Even the pump and spit of a respirator fades into the background

of a conversation between family, only when it stops

do we look up and see death has swept by and stolen it away.

After a minute of watching, we realize it is gone forever,

the chest stuck in permanent exhale with no more room for air.

Sitting at the foot of the bed while sisters, aunts, a wife

paused, I saw you walk into the room, having missed

what we all missed: the last moment, the last echo

of the last rock, and the quiet of the rest of a life. The foothill

is not finished forming. You keep losing and sloughing off

memories of him, that year, the years before months before the end.

A picture with a new frame, or no frame at all, you continue

to scan your past until you notice what’s missing, or what wasn’t

there all along. The foothill isn’t finished forming.

We won’t know the shape of grief, or the shape of a life

until the last rock slips, then, some underground stream finds

its mouth, and starts singing in the daylight, along with life

crawling out of every crack, the cave that is left behind.

Translation in Croatian by Sara Hižman:

Kut sipanja


Sile koje se odupiru kretanju niz padinu nazivamo

pojmom posmična čvrstoća, što uključuje otpor trenja

i koheziju među česticama od kojih se objekt sastoji.

-Čimbenici koji utječu na stabilnost kosine,“ Sveučilište Tulane


Dno litice se i dalje

oblikuje, rasute gromade i sipina žrtve su gravitacije,

svaki gubitak materije pridonosi obliku životnog vijeka.

Šetali smo stazom u Arkansasu i primijetili strehe

kamenih zidova i skrivene žljebove vode koja kapa,

svojim tajnim, mokrim ustima ljubi

stijene. Već mjesec dana stabla žute, i

četiri je mjeseca otkad ti je otac preminuo.

Spori, hladni povjetarci u podnožju litice.

Jecala si u tišini auta, tri sata od Kansas Cityja.

Podzemni potok pronađe svjetlo dana i izviri.

Isparava li voda pod zemljom? Samo rijeka

koja pronađe sunce može uteći u nebo.

Još se uvijek ne znam nositi s tugom.

Prošli su mjeseci otkako smo čuli dijagnozu tvog oca

− sporo ključanje tvrdog kamena − gravitacija je

srušila stablo na stazu pred nama,

prekoračili smo grbu njegova debla. Mokra mahovina,

vlaga drveta, stotine kukaca mili pod korom,

u trulom drvu, pocrnjelom od pljesni i propadanja.

Izlet je bio prilika da se maknemo od svega,

trebao ti je odmor. Stali smo. Par metara pred nama,

iz grmlja izađe jelen, i tišina. Još se učimo

živjeti u braku, pohvatati krhotine kad se slomimo

i dio nas odnese lavina. Tuga, kao kiša,

kao podzemna bujica, čupa korijenje

i oslabljuje temelj. Nosila si moju poderanu

kariranu košulju i zelene martensice.

Dugi rukavi visjeli su ti s tankih ruku.

Brisala si lice dok smo hodali. Brana na kraju

staze, stigla si prva i stala zapanjena, čitavo jezero

samo čeka da prodre. Dostigao sam te

bez daha. Sat vremena nismo prozborili.



Dan nezavisnosti 2012., godinama prije

njegove smrti, vrh Mount Sherman, general

pod čijim su koracima gorjeli Georgija i Jug.

Put nas je vodio kroz čistinu

posutu kokotićima i pakujcima.

Htjela si leći i utonuti u floru,

postati zemlja, zarobljena tkanjem

korijenja, postati i jedinka i mnoštvo.

Prešli smo potok, njegova neiskaziva

nevinost izronila je ispod planine

u dolini. Ulaz u rudnik simbol je

tuge planine, oderane i izbrazdane

radi srebra, tumora Zapada, čije naslage

protječu njezinim stijenama.

Kao da ju je netko raznio u komadiće

i spalio svu boju s njenih obraza, planina je

više sličila zaobljenoj masi nego romantičnom vrhu.

Mali pomak rasjeda, zemlja se urušava.

Raslinje neukroćeno, slojevi epoha i vrućine

neviđena ognja, pritisak kamena koji klizi,

dvije velike ploče zemlje tiskaju se

jedna drugoj u ruke. Ostavili smo cvijeće doline

i penjali se po klimavim kamenim pločama

koje su bile os k prave planine, poput razbijene

keramike, pogrešan korak šalje kišu krša niz strminu.

Sunce je vladalo plavim nebom i okupalo nas u svojoj toplini.

Iz tog nas je sna prenula težina vlastitih tijela

i zakovala nas o tlo. Dospjeli smo do vrha i odmarali se

na grebenu s kojeg je pogled sezao u daljinu.

Posegnula si u ruksak, napunjen bocama vode

i rezervnom odjećom. Zamrljala si dlan dok si vadila

razbijenu posudu rumenih malina, punih koštica,

meke pulpe, njihova je boja odudarala od sivila terena.

Možda pucaju na visini, rijeke sokova razlijevaju se

iz korita. Polizala si prste i ponudila mi

smrskanu crvenu kašu. Krenulo je sniježiti, vjetar je nosio

sitne, tanke pahulje, poput pepela velikog požara,

rasplamsalog, snijeg tog 4. srpnja, snijeg na vrhu planine,

znoj je hladio naša tijela, a mi smo sjedili i gledali potok za nama,

dolinu cvijeća, sada već izgubljenu iz vida, miljama daleko.


4. srpnja 2016.,

igrali smo badminton ispred tvoje kuće.

Loptica se vinula preko mreže, udarac,

sporo spuštanje reketa tvoje sestre. Trava ti je

češkala gležnjeve, a ja sam se znojio na suncu koje je

zalazilo za susjedovu kuću. Tvoj se otac žalio

na vatromet, koji su mu puštali pod prozorom.

Sjedio je i iščekivao san, i neizbježno buđenje

dva sata kasnije. Tvoja je majka odbila tri poziva

susjeda da se pridruže zabavi u kvartu.

Zar nisu znali da nije htjela uznemiriti

naglu narav tvog oca? Rak je zahvatio

prednji režanj, putujući brzom autocestom

krvi ispumpane iz njegovih pluća. Nisu li vidjeli

uvježbanu tugu na njezinu licu dok je odbijala poziv,

prvi puta kraj poštanskog sandučića, pa kad smo stigli

kući s večere, i kad smo postavljali mrežu za badminton?

Crveni i plavi bljeskovi za ljubitelje pirotehnike, blještave

Vene plamena šire se iz eksplozije srca, lagan pad,

pepeo i krhotine izgaraju, gase se kad dotaknu travu.

Miris paljenja vatre i papira zadržao se u zraku.

Tvoj je otac te noći htio prespavati u hotelu.

uzet ćemo jednu sobu − Puno će nas izaći,

ne mislim ovdje spavati − Vatromet će uskoro prestati,

zašto se još nismo pokrenuli. Neprospavana noć

u hotelu, upaljen TV. Tek minute drijemanja,

buđenje u tri, čekanje da se doma zalegne u svoju

ogromnu fotelju, postavljenu na podupirače

kako bi lakše ustao. Ponekad bi mu žvakača

ispala iz usta i ulovila se za košulju.

Tvoja je majka polako gubila živce. Pomaganje

oko najmanjih sitnica, dodatni jastuk, puna

šaka tableta, čišćenje mokraće sa zahodske daske.

Uvijek na korak jedan do drugog, kratka drijemanja

kad je trebao odmora. Udaljenost od dnevne do spavaće sobe

kad je trebala mir. Dala mu je zvonce ako je zatreba

kad su bolnički krevet premjestili na donji kat.

Na kat bi se popeo jedino uz pomoć da bi ga

oprala pod tušem, žile vode pružale bi se

niz nemoćne noge. Jedne je noći tri puta išao pišati,

tri su se puta čula zvonca, tri čaše vode za navlažiti

njegova suha usta. Drugi je puta sam ustao i

pokušao popraviti zračnu pumpu za nadmadrac.

Tada je već jedva disao, ali je svejedno psovao glasnu

pumpu. Odzvanjala je u mirnoj atmosferi dnevne sobe

zaklonjene zastorima. Novi krevet, trebat će novi krevet.

Glas mu je bio tih i borio se izbiti na površinu

preko slojeva sline i raka od pet kilograma,

kroz čvorišta crnih izraslina koje se granaju.

Oči govore koliko je hitno. Novi krevet,

novi mobitel, novi kompjutor. Novi život −

ništa nije funkcioniralo. Sporo kretanje oluje

nagovještava hitni slučaj. Dovoljno vremena

da se pripremimo, dovoljno vremena pred nama,

nema više vremena, ovo nije čovjek za kojeg se udala.

Kamen se raskoli uz najtanju venu razdvajanja.

Dno litice se mrvi. Silazili smo niz planinu

umorni i hladni, osjećali smo težinu njezine

vrijednosti jer je iscijedila zadnju kap

iz naših tijela. Približavali smo se potoku,

cvijeće se vraćalo u svoje nijanse. Uhvatili smo dah,

ispunili se rijetkim zrakom i nastavili, s planinom

sve sitnijom iza nas.


„Naravno, ukoliko materijal koji tvori ravnu površinu

postane nestabilan ili popusti, nepoduprta će se masa krenuti spuštati.“

-„Čimbenici koji utječu na stabilnost kosine,“ Sveučilište Tulane


Ti si elementarna

nepogoda. Plivam i tonem u tvojoj žalosti. Noću

odlaziš u krevet, trebaš rano ustati, uživaš u samoći

jutarnjih svitanja, crta je to koju si dijelila sa svojim ocem.

Naši rasporedi u disbalansu, nismo više ljubavnici,

više kao cimeri, koji žive u praznom prenoćištu.

Glasnoća svakog koraka u noći pojačana, škripanje se svakim

trenom sve se više rasteže i struže o svaki nepomičan trenutak.

Trenje bivanja krvari ti u snove. Ponekad te probudim

i začujem trabunjanje koje doseže iz tvoje besvijesti.

Jesi dobro? Nisi dobro. Jedne večeri sjedimo u krevetu,

želiš da ti pomognem, ili odmognem, da izviri iz mene,

a presvlačim se od napornog dana predavanja.

Na noćnom ormariću stoji slika tvog oca

na kojoj rukama pokazuje znak volim te

svojoj gluhoj sestri, ali u tvojoj glavi on svaki dan

izgovara te riječi, svaki dan na govornoj pošti

čuješ trenje tih riječi o njegovo nepostojanje.

Otkopčam košulju i bacim je prema ormaru,

sruši okvir slike. Graneš na mene − Radiš li to svaki dan?

Bujica je varljiva, čini ti se da se voda podiže.

Ali vode nema, tu je samo duboka šutnja stare kuće

koja čeka da brana koja sve zadržava iza sebe pukne

pod mojim teškim koracima. Pazim da te ne probudim.


Pričam o kući tvojih roditelja

kao da tamo još uvijek netko živi. Njegovi satovi, auto,

pričam o odjeći tvog oca kao da je još uvijek netko nosi.

Pričam im kako si prava tatina kći

− A ti si v srce mi tak puno sunca dala −

riječi s pogreba tvog oca. Sjećam se

okupljanja, muke planiranja sprovoda

dok se tuguje, biranja pjesama i čitanja.

Bili smo doma, zaglavljeni pod težinom njega,

zahvaćeni bujicom i naletom dvije kamene stijene,

koje se odupiru jedna drugoj, milimetar do iskliznuća.

Okruženi nepoznatim prostorom među vremenima, naši se

jezici još nisu naviknuli na prošlost, njegovo tijelo i smrt.

Mačka odbija hranu, dodir, nas. Kako utješiti mačku koja

tuguje? Sjećam se težine kutije u koju smo stavili urnu.

Zavezali smo je na stražnje sjedalo tijekom vožnje

od kuće do crkve. Kako su ga stavili u urnu?

Kako pretočiš tijelo kao tekućinu? Jesu li bili nježni

ili su im se ruke tresle pod težinom života?

Jesu li svojstva pepela sličnija vatri ili kamenu?


No sve je zasad bolno

Odgođeno, predviđeno, izmišljeno i najstvarnije.

-Seamus Heaney


Otputovala si kući

na dan kad je umro. Htjela si majci dati vremena

da odmori, kilometri vijugava asfalta između

naših domova, udaljenost djetinjstva i zrelosti.

Ležao je u bolničkoj sobi u koju je ušao

bez nagovaranja. Vratila se bol, a i zahtjevi.

Znam da imaju tablete, molim vas, dajte da završi.

Tvoja je majka rekla da je to ilegalno, nije me briga,

sestre znaju gdje su tablete. Od nebrige su mu noge

otekle, ljubičaste i glatke, zategnuta i pjegava

koža koja više ne sakriva plavu formaciju

vena, dali su mu lijekova dovoljno da više

ne reagira. Njegovo se tijelo trzalo pod

maskom respiratora.


Vermont, naš medeni mjesec,

dvije godine prije njegove smrti. Htjeli smo se popeti na

Mount Abraham i preko prašume se zaputiti do Zelenih planina,

sve je bilo mokro, bujno, kao da smo ušetali u zijevajuća usta

stabla. Osjetili smo vodu u zraku dok su nam noge gorjele.

Stigli smo do kraja šume i krenuli se uspinjati preko

glatkog kamenja. Vrh je bio ogoljen i izložen.

Znam da bi htjela da više uživam u planinarenju.

Na putu dolje gledali smo kako su odvozili debla stabala

i mali nas je potok iznenadio. Nismo naišli na potok

dok smo se penjali. Krenuli smo dalje, izgubljeni.

Nožnim se venama širila panika. Sunce je zalazilo,

a kapi su vode zatresle spuštene ruke borova.

Plesale su i mahale, divila si se njihovoj veličanstvenosti,

a ja tvojoj staloženosti. Sat je prošao kao vjetar kroz grane,

odsutnost svih zvukova osim mojih teških udisaja.

Ovog ćemo se sjećati do kraja naših života.


Veljača, sedam mjeseci

nakon njegove smrti, tad sam predavao na sveučilištu.

Vratio sam se kući u podne, dočekala su me razvaljena vrata.

Iverje dovratnika i božićnog vijenca rasuti

na podu, kao i odjeća iz komode, razbijena

svjetiljka. Zakoračio sam u prostoriju pružajući ključ

kao žrtvu, drhteći, lagano sam odgurnuo vrata,

povukao se na trijem, zaglavljen u međuprostoru.

Treba vremena da sidro tuge dotakne dno. Mozak to ne

očekuje, kao da tražiš što se promijenilo na slici

koju si gledao svaki dan, tražeći detalj

koji je promijenjen ili stran, preispitujući sve,

je li sve isto kao nekada? Ili je netko ukrao

sliku. TV, kompjutor, satove, nakit, moju odjeću.

Zamišljam kako navlače majicu preko glave,

doživljavaju komad tkanine dok se otvara i

pokušava smjestiti na njihov trup sa željom za dodirom,

second-hand koji im savršeno pristaje. Ukrali su

hard disk s obiteljskim snimkama koji ti je dao otac.

Na njegov zadnji Božić gledali smo ih kod

tvojih. Sklupčala si se na kauču na kojem si

u srednjoj školi ležala dok bi bila bolesna. Tvoj bi

otac ustao u tri da odnese tvrdoglavu spavalicu u krevet.

Navikla si na to, na plakanje, smijanje, balavost.

U svijetu u kojem je teško biti sretan, tuga nam nudi

uzemljenje, priliku da sami sebe upoznamo i vidimo

koliki put treba preplivati od dna korita do površine rijeke.


Udah napušta tijelo

i vraća su u umrtvljujućim intervalima.

Pumpa i kondenzirana slina završe u drugom planu,

sakrivene u šumu obiteljskih razgovora, tek kad zastane

podignemo pogled i vidimo da se kraj nas prošuljala smrt

i ukrala posljednji. Na minutu se osvrnemo,

shvatimo da je otišao zauvijek, a prsa su zaglavila

u vječnom izdisaju, kao da su zaboravila disati.

Sjedeći na rubu kreveta, dok su sestre, tete i supruga

zastale u trenutku, ugledao sam te kako ulaziš u sobu, ti,

koja si propustila ono što smo svi propustili. Posljednji

trenutak, posljednji odjek posljednjeg kamena i

muk ostatka života. Dno litice se i dalje oblikuje.

Sjećanja na njega mrve se i gube, i ta godina

i godine i mjeseci prije kraja. Slika s novim

okvirom ili slika bez okvira, držiš svoju prošlost

u ruci ne bi li pronašla što je izgubljeno ili čega

nikad nije ni bilo. Dno litice još se uvijek oblikuje.

Nećemo vidjeti oblik žalosti ni oblik života sva dok zadnji

kamen ne sklizne, tada će neki podzemni potok pronaći

njegova usta i zapjevati na svjetlu dana zajedno sa životom

koji gmiže iz svake pukotine pećine koju ćemo ostaviti za sobom.

About the Author:

John Moessner is a Kansas City-based writer, editor, and teacher. Harmonia, his first poetry collection, will be published by Stephen F. Austin State University Press in May 2023. His MFA is from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Arts & Letters, Commonweal, New Ohio Review, North American Review, and Poet Lore have all published his work. He is working as an editorial assistant for a medical research journal in Kansas City after teaching English and writing for several years.

About the Translator:

Sara Hižman is a graduate student in English and Russian language and literature at the University of Zadar. She has been publishing poetry since high school, was shortlisted for the Konjanik award, and won first place in the competition for the best unpublished poem of the Matica Hrvatska branch in Zadar. University of Zadar will co-finance her first poetry collection named Starorječje. The poem Angle of repose was her translation project for the literary translation module in English studies.

O prevoditeljici:

Sara Hižman apsolventica je diplomskog studija anglistike i ruskog jezika i književnosti Sveučilišta u Zadru. Od srednje škole objavljuje poeziju, odabrana je za uži izbor za dodjelu nagrade Konjanik, objavljuje prijevode pjesama, a pjesmom Kako kažeš osvojila je prvo mjesto na natječaju za najbolju neobjavljenu pjesmu ogranka Matice Hrvatske u Zadru. Njezinu prvu zbirku pjesama Starorječje sufinancirat će Sveučilište u Zadru. Pjesmu Kut sipanja izabrala je za prevoditeljski projekt na književno-prevoditeljskom modulu diplomskog studija anglistike.


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The image of Quasimodo is by French artist Louis Steinheil, which appeared in  the 1844 edition of Victor Hugo's "Notre-Dame de Paris" published by Perrotin of Paris.


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