Sunday, October 16, 2011

five minutes - dunya mikhail

Five Minutes
by Dunya Mikhail (tr. Elizabeth Winslow)

In five minutes, the world will end . . .
The owner of the shop next door
has just put up the "Closed" sign
and gone away
as if he knows there is no time left for work.
There are other stores open.
Their owners are still absorbed in work,
but the world will end in . . .
A group of lively boys
rushes by in the street;
following them, a dog
leading an old man.
The traffic light is red.
The bus driver makes a slight adjustment
to the rearview mirror.
There are still several scenes
that move across the mirror.
The driver pulls away now.
The traffic light is green.
It will keep changing, even after
five minutes!
A young man checks his watch
and waits for the next bus . . .
In the public park, a couple walks past the statues
and smiles under the sun.
The statues are carefree.
They stare firmly at nothing.
A tourist wanders full of curiosity
and takes pictures of what will soon be absent.
There, in the white hospital,
women bear new babies
too late.
The babies might leave the world
without names.
In one of the wards,
they will be left
forever in test tubes
while the wiggling lab mouse
performing a test
will be free at last
from the big eye that always watches.
The test is not difficult,
but time will run out
before the answer.
And it no longer matters
whether or not you knew.
Smell the roses and keep going.
The rose always knows
that the world will end in five minutes . . .
The blue shirt in the shop window
seems beautiful on the mannequin.
A young woman points it out to her friend
and they head toward the revolving door
to be swallowed by the towering building . . .
On the wall, glossy advertisements:
but the world will end . . .
In his walled room
inside the walled palace
inside the walled city,
the tyrant is chewing on an apple
and watching himself on television.
Who would believe that in five minutes
he will relinquish his throne?
Another defendant receives a life sentence.
His attorney wants an appeal
but the world will . . .
Passengers push through the exit door
others come in through the entrance door.
A woman sets down her suitcase
and waves her hand
(it is not me).
A man waves to her from behind the airport glass
(it is not you).
I don't know if they met
or if the time . . .
That university student
prefers to travel by train.
It doesn't make much difference now.
He has agreed with a friend
to go on a picnic.
I don't know if the picnic ended before the world
or the world before the picnic!
As for me, I am writing a letter.
I don't think it will be finished
within five minutes.

No comments:

Post a Comment