Josef Straka - THE “ODRA”

I reflect on what it’s like to be spending the last year in a foreign country
a chimera?
unsuccessful journeys into cities ending with –in and –ol?
or into some others
notes, pattering, vowels yelped out
tickets punched by a taciturn conductor, who merely points to the direction
indicated below to the right
I then follow the borderline, seguing into a river
walking round the place called Colony before the war
today just a lonesome tractor with a ploughshare for cutting grass
an enclosure with rams and indicator: 5 km to Destination
a few hundred metres a bike path ending
cyclists slightly bemused in the bluish dusk of the hidden sun
to be lost for a moment now
two countries you’re not at home in, not quite present in either of them
temporary outsidespace
to endure in it till the last cup of coffee on the island you’ve reached
by a wooden connecting bridge
a few tables, a tall white tent
under which a 6 ft. 6 in. man is heating up sausages
indicating a discount, in an hour the fire will be out, he says
words, a lone couple dreaming of a life together
sitting down by the grasses
untroubled and motionless

Translated by David Vichnar