Lullaby by Aleš Šteger – translated by Brian Henry

You have five minutes

Until I turn out the lights.

Because the poem you waited for all day

Isn’t there, in the end simply list what is.

So: tired books on the table,

The plants have folded their leaves and gone to sleep,

The television rustles and a moth flutters over the table,

In love with light until death.

You have one minute. Thirty seconds.

Now I’m naked and in bed. I hear you:

Ten, nine, but—didn’t I forget something?—

Six, yes, five, I forgot four,

Three, but now it’s two and for this, too,

It’s too late. I can just close my wings tight

And hope you wake me at zero.



Aleš Šteger has published eight books of poetry, three novels, and two books of essays in Slovenian. His books in English include The Book of Things, Berlin, Essential Baggage, Above the Sky Beneath the Earth, and the novel Absolution. He lives in Ljubljana.

Brian Henry is the author of eleven books of poetry. He has translated books by Aleš Debeljak, Tomaž Šalamun, and Aleš Šteger. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.