Luka Bekavac: August After Midnight

No end. [24 cm damaged] ever ends... this used to be gospel, but it also seems [8 cm damaged] in a circle, without a beginning, and there are no ends. [silence 58 seconds] When I think of the chain we were a part of... the one we broke away from, if we did break away [white noise 3 seconds] by the skin of our teeth... when I imagine it... like a line, say, a drop of blood rolls toward the future leaving its stain behind... [unintelligible] someone holds a hand, firmly, in bloodlines, and I can’t say for sure where my other hand is, free or [white noise 2 seconds] onto Eliza... but the other hand of the past woman, whose face I cannot see, is surely linked to yet another, an earlier hand, and another [4 cm damaged] holding one deeper yet in the past: one woman clasps another by the hand, the second clasps a third, the string of clasps falls away into the past... as if it is not actually a trajectory of time, a procession of dead generations... former lives... but the spreading of a fabric, a stack of cells from the same plant, perhaps the stem of a flower... if I were to close my eyes, say... there would be a view from the summit... [silence 5 seconds] ... from a petal appearing late, at the end, the ground is no longer visible from the verge, or rather the face of that primeval [interference 4 seconds] if there was one woman who started the coven, only the millennial line, actually its freefall, a boundless curve, as if submerging into clouds, though this might not mean that... it might not mean that our break really did rupture the chain, perhaps there is no depth to all this, the clouds that swallow the slope actually recall a surface of water, or something similar, a liquid mass we cannot penetrate, nor can we sink into it, obviously, we’ve survived, and the current sweeps along, though in a wholly unknown direction, only a flower, decapitated, perhaps just one dead petal or particle of pollen: the two of us. [silence 7 seconds] Nothing more... Nothing much. Everything from before was totally [unintelligible] our coven is the key one, the source of things happening that carries the greatest burden, now I see this, thank god, how short-sighted we were, to believe as we did that we two women were the last, we could be the omega as much as Petar would be the alpha: the whole coven was but a single link in the middle of a chain, its ends beyond sight, Gerda said as much, in less typical moments, the first and the last indeed have nothing to do with time, they are what is outside the sequence... and the happy circumstance that the chaos was finally exhausted and gave up, or seemed to, at least in this cycle, in the round that touched our lives, this does not mean that the end of the world and all time is now upon us, it merely means that, probably, nobody is out looking for us, nobody is out to kill us... or at least they can no longer reach us... if we, therefore, were now on the underside of the stain left by that droplet of blood, or atop the family flower, like pollen, like dust, whatever, something could still come along and blow us away, but no one cares any more: we might die off, we might go on growing and procreating, but no one will be around to see it... though, if one gives this a little more serious thought, the entire story about how we are downstream in bloodlines, how other women are even farther along, and how not a single one of us can go back in time or jump ahead from the spot where she is woven in, all this has no meaning if what was constantly repeated before the catastrophe still holds true, the great is in the small, the paths upward and downward are the same, the whole is in the fragment [unintelligible] fractal gospels... but Eliza never troubled herself with such problems... for her we were probably mere nurses, an ambulance retrieving the shell-shocked casualties from the battlefield... I don’t know whether she has ever seen something [interference 5 seconds] or only political mobilization, though she would never call this politics, in the coven there were too few of us... I can’t remember... she probably thought I am not up to talking about it... my stomach aches whenever I think of all of this... but today it may also be from the plums, I gorged myself on them... they probably weren’t properly ripe... I’m sloshing with water... [silence 4 seconds] ... something moved... like live creatures draining the juices [unintelligible] I’m feeding a child, unwittingly, against my will... though that’s silly, I can’t imagine how I could know what a child is and how a pregnant woman feels... [silence 9 seconds] ... maybe I’d find it easier to sit... but lounging is more comfortable, it’s so pleasant here... the best blanket we have, at least of those that can be spread out on the grass... and this view... only sky... I love an afternoon like this, two or three fronds of clouds, like cotton batting or feathers, something sways on the breath [white noise 7 seconds] the breathing of summer... it’s hot, very hot... and so still, this is utter stillness, nothing is happening except gusts of breeze, they come and go, and ultimately [interference 12 seconds] of a warm hand... a door opens, a glimpse into another room, something invisible from our cocoon... there, there it is again... those are treetops, golden green [unintelligible] stains, when I twist my neck like this, like an outline... the Sun dapples them, teases a dot out here and there, purple or yellow... and then the impression takes hold, I see through the door, as if a body, without a glance, is moving through it... and beyond is the whole world, or at least all of Slavonia... I can imagine where it was before my cheeks, before it slipped in under my shirt: all the treetops in the forest, the oaks and the shrubs, clover and wild poppies, meadows full of dandelions, gray and transparent heads, and before that the fields, wheat, combing sheaves, gathering dust and powder, like particles of gold... and even before that over the bed of the River Drava, like in a slow-motion movie, an ice-skating rink [white noise 2 seconds] a muddy green crust... and before that?... well it was probably there, too, in the beginning, in Osijek, on the roofs, on the streets, on the squares... [silence 20 seconds] ... that’s good, now that’s better, eased up a little... at times I feel as if I have no weight at all, when I’m lounging like this on the coverlet... but I’m not afraid I’ll fly away, I feel more like I’ll sink into the ground... this crisscrossing is all that is holding me... blue and red, red and blue... if I don’t lift my head it is as if there is no perimeter, into the plaid natural world down there it stretches: the paths and tree trunks, regular rows, pure geometry, actually, reproduced in organic matter, and all the circles and lines, when I see them like this, from a height, they look every bit as abstract as the pattern on the wool... everything is so orderly here... actually, it’s hard to believe these are private orchards, though what else could they be, this is all far too limited for industrial farming... yet... the regular plots, squares of plantings, the perfect rhythm of trees and flower beds, straight paths, all arranged in carefully measured angles, always 45 degrees or 90 degrees... I have no idea what influence Eliza may have had on the orchards, how much this was the interplay of climate, the genius of the former proprietors, who knows what else, the influence of the stars or telluric currents, here they, quite clearly, also cause far stranger things... when the two of us came, everything appeared to have been abandoned, the orchards and garden beds, but not for very long, as if the residents had vanished only weeks before, but that would have been impossible, I’m sure, the house looked a sight, as if it had not been lived in for ten years... and there was fruit hanging from the tree boughs, marvelous and entirely edible... I remember this well, we traipsed over rotten fruit in the grass, ripped everything that was ripe off the branches, feasted without a thought, without any fear of poisoning, because for days we’d been living on only water and leaves, we were giddy with weakness and hunger... the orchards were actually waiting here, orderly, and Eliza merely grabbed the opportunity, after we’d cleared and set everything to rights, to claim credit for all the inexplicable produce and for the fact that we were now saved from starvation, seemingly, forever... [silence 13 seconds] ... there it is, starting again... but different... perhaps already I [white noise 6 seconds] all the heavenly bodies [unintelligible] fruit on the boughs, though, today the Moon is in the wrong phase, you can hardly see it, but I love it most when it’s like this, or the first quarter, though it is, perhaps, lovelier this way, like a stone scythe... or, that is... made of adularia, if I remember rightly, at dusk it will [interference 9 seconds] would resonate were I to strike it... its influence on all that grows here, mineral weapons... what a shame I never studied biology, I guess they thought it wouldn’t matter, though this probably doesn’t fall under biology, it would presumably be something more like... astroagronomy, I guess... before I thought these were old wives’ tales, Gerda was especially allergic to susperstition, but... I don’t know... as if in all this there is a mathematical [white noise 4 seconds] orientation, though all was arbitrary, like here, for example... where are we now, anyway?... we are departing from the night house, leaving Cancer... or have we already left?... at last... a period of utter blindness, obviously, already that sign, 69, looking like a symbol for introversion, something curled up in a ball, premature, embryo-like, or two lowly beings biting each other by the tail... after all, Cancer is also supposed to represent dissolution, solutio, and movement forward-back, forward-back, forward-back, this has something to do with canons, polyphony, perfect for Eliza... or perhaps it has to do with that snake that already looks as if it is a closed circle... actually, no, that was something else, it looked similar but meant the opposite, I think, something like a more profound wisdom, indestructibility, an eternal return, I don’t remember, perhaps something like the great within the small?... I don’t know any more... but Cancer, this was Eliza’s time, absolutely, all those overcharged emotions, but prudently suppressed, locked up in the over-inflated rib cage and then repurposed as [unintelligible] with which to thrash everything in sight... [silence 8 seconds] ... whose fault is it that... I think I’d rather kill myself than live that way... but now, whatever, we are where we are...

"August After Midnight", naslovnica; izvor: Fraktura

Na engleski prevela Ellen Elias-Bursać.

Knjiga je objavljena u sklopu projekta Facing Insecurities in Contemporary Europe sufinanciranog sredstvima programa Europske unije Kreativna Europa.