Thirst by Aleš Šteger – translated by Brian Henry

When a black hour takes the color of my blood on a red desk

When books don’t open to speak but to whisper

When I become as wicked as

When every door closes and gasps in the darkness

When an orange is not an orange, a shoe not a shoe, and my shirt is put on

in the morning by the one who will kill me in the evening

When I drink long gulps of water that fall into me like glass

When I am cut

When I don’t believe in now, lose the before and don’t see my reflection in shop windows

When someone starts to run after me, but just before he catches me I disappear again

When nothing whispers but everything is screaming because it is mute

When I am dicing an onion and think that the knife is the key with which I can open a wrist

so that sand rushes from it

When Michelangelo touches Adam and goes through the world of cracks

When I am the left and right segments, the one that searches and the one that doesn’t want

to find

When I withdraw a finger and won’t say that’s when anymore, no when, no bones, no one—




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.