By Gábor Schein

Translated by Ottilie Mulzet

from Issue 23
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Will nothing now ever break
the evening’s cast weight?
I’m prisoner of a muted word,
a cry which can’t get out of my throat.
My breath is gravel and reeds.
Unknown spirits reside in my castle of words,
as there in the windswept world, where
no living heart may arrive.
Winding amid spinning desire,
giving birth to oneself, motherless, stuck
in the birth canal. But while from the darkness
wave breaks upon wave thick and grey,
stabbing beneath my ribs with every intake of breath,
at last I begin to see myself. There is no other hope
than for the despondent suffixes to
penetrate into the bones, and to attain
the wakeful nights within them: the body
lies there chilled on the operating table.


Gábor Schein is a literary historian, poet, and novelist. His verse and novels explore the state of Jewish survival in late and post-communist Hungary, the aftermath of catastrophe, the legacy of Jewish life in both pre- and post-Holocaust Europe, and the psychic conditions of the final decades of communist rule.

Ottilie Mulzet’s translation of Seiobo There Below by László Krasznahorkai (New Directions, 2013) was awarded the Best Translated Book Award for 2013. Her translation of Krasznahorkai’s Destruction and Sorrow beneath the Heavens is forthcoming from Seagull Books in 2016, and her translation of The Dispossessed, by Szilárd Borbély (1963-2014) is forthcoming from HarperCollins.

Original text: Gábor Schein, “Kavics és nádas,” Élet és irodalom, Volume LIX, No. 4, January 23, 2015. Budapest: 2015.

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