#the6 мин. чтенияСлушать

The Assimilation Of The Gypsies

In the background, a few shacks & overturned carts And a gray sky holding the singular pallor of Lent.

And here the crowd of onlookers, though a few of them Must be intimate with the victim,

Have been advised to keep their distance.

The young man walking alone in handcuffs that join Each wrist in something that is not prayer, although It is as urgent, wearsA brown tweed coat flecked with white, a white shirt Open at the collar.

And beside him, the broad, curving tracks of a bus that Passed earlier through the thawing mud . . . they seem To lead him out of the photograph &

What I imagine

The firing squad: a few distant cousins & neighbors Assembled by order of the

The wall of a closed schoolhouse.

Two of the men uneasily holding rifles, a barber And an unemployed postal clerk,

Are thinking of nothing except perhaps the first snowfall Last year in the village, how it covered & simplified Everything—the ruts in the road & the

Stubble in the fields—& of how they cannot be,

Now, any part of that.


They understand well enough

The man murdered the girl's uncle with an axe,

Just as they know why his language,

Because it was not official & had to be translated Into Czech at the trial, failed to

Anyone of its passion.


The red-faced uncle kept threatening the

Until she at last succumbed under a browning hedge, & if The young man had to use three strokes with the axe To finish the job—well, they shrug,

All he had, that day, was an axe.

And besides, the barber & the clerk suspect that this boy,

Whom they have known for half their lives,

Had really intended to kill the girl that evening—Never the uncle.

In a lost culture of fortune tellers, unemployable Horse traders, & a frank beauty the world Will not allow,

It was the time of such things, it was late summer,

And it is time now, the two executioners agree,

That all of this ended.


Jarabina. 1963.


Koudelka tells us nothing else about this scene,

I think he is right, if only

The young man walks outside time now, & is not So much a murderer as he is, simply, a man About to be executed by his neighbors .. .

And so it is important to all of them that he behave With a certain tact & dignity as he walks Of his own accord but with shoulders hunched,

Up to the wall of the empty schoolhouse;

And, turning his

First to one side, then to the other,

He lets them slip the blindfold over his eyes And secure it with an old gentleness They have

Since birth.

And perhaps at this

All three of them remember slipping light scarves,

Fashioned into halters,

Over the muzzles of horses, & the quickness of horses.

And if the boy has forgiven them in

By such a slight gesture, this turning of his head,

It is because he knows, as they do, too,

Not only that terror is a

Of complete understanding, but also

In a few years, this whole village, with its

Shacks, tea leaves, promiscuity between cousins,

Idle horse thieves, & pale lilacs used To cure the insane,

Will be gone—bulldozed away so that the land Will lie black & fallow & without history.

And nothing will be planted there, or buried,

As the same flocks of

Will go on gathering, each spring, in the high

Of these trees.

Still, it is impossible not to

That the young man has washed & combed his

For this last day on earth; it is

Not to see how one of the policemen has turned

To the crowd as if to

Any mother or sister from rushing forward—Although neither one, if she is here, seems About to move.

And in the background,

You can see that a few of the houses are entirely white,

Like a snowfall persisting into spring,

Or into oblivion, though

May be the fault of the photograph or its

Under such circumstances .. .

And now even the children in the crowd, who have gathered To watch all this, appear to be growing bored With the procedures & the waiting.

I suppose that the young man's face,

Without looking up, spoke silently to Koudelka as he passed,

Just as it speaks now, to me, from this photograph.

Now that there is nothing either of us can do for him.

His hair is clean & washed, & his coat is buttoned.

Except for his handcuffs, he looks as

He is beginning a long journey, or going out,

For the first time, into the world .. .

He must have thought he could get away with this,

Or else he must have thought he loved her.

It is too late to inquire.

It is mid-afternoon & twenty years too late,

And even the language he used to explain it

Is dying a little more, each moment, as I write this—And as I begin to realize

This ancient, still blossoming

Will also begin to die, someday, to crack &

Under its own weight—Though that will not happen for years & years,

And long after the barber & the

Have lowered their rifles & turned away to

For what seems like a long time, & then,

Because there is nothing else for them to do,

They will walk home together, talking softly in a language That has never been written down.

If you look closely at the two of them Sweating in their black wool suits,

You can see how even their daily behavior,

The way they avoid the subject,

Has become an art:

One talks of his daughter, who is learning to dance.

The other mentions his mother, who died, last year—When the orchards were simple with their fruit,

And ripe—of an undiagnosed illness.

And if the lots they pass are empty because the horses Were shipped off years ago to Warsaw For the meat on their backs?

And if there is no hope for this,

Or any poetry?

On their lips the quick syllables of their Language fly & darken into a few, last Delicious phrases,

Even though they are talking of ordinary life As they pass the smells of

Which rise in smoke from the poorest of houses And even from stoves carried outdoors & burning,

As fuel, the cheap paneling of shacks Which the government gave them.

Until it seems that all they

Rises in smoke,

As it always has,

And as it will continue to do in this place For a few more years.

Larry Patrick Levis (September 30, 1946 – May 8, 1996) was an American poet.
Другие работы автора
Вам нужно войти , чтобы оставить комментарий
Ryfma - это социальная сеть для публикации книг, стихов и прозы, для общения писателей и читателей. Публикуй стихи и прозу бесплатно.