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Andrej Hočevar (2013)

I like women. One of them is
even my wife. She has all the strengths
and weaknesses of women, both of which I admire equally.
We try to communicate and that causes problems.
Occasionally, whenever I’m not squeezed between slices
of darkness, whenever I’m not wondering if I’ll
ever write again, we have sex.
Since we’re married, we have sex the way we imagine
other married people do.
As casually as possible and without the awkward
foreplay. In this respect, as in most others,
we have no examples. No models. No parents.
This gives us pleasure. We’re happy we don’t know
how our parents had sex. In this respect all of us
who’ve had parents are somewhat alike. Otherwise
we’re quite different. Some men, for instance, give
other men or other women a hard time,
some women give other men a hard time,
or other women, or everyone at once.
Occasionally, alas, this holds for me, too. And I feel bad.
Unbelievably bad. I call people up and apologize
for yesterday. Sorry, my mind was
preoccupied, my heart in my throat, my guts in an uproar.
Sharp canine fangs in my clenched fist. Dust
stinging my lungs. I don’t want to be a man
who gives his wife a hard time. I suspect it’s no mistake for me
to say she doesn’t want that, either.
But none of this is to say there aren’t also some men
that I like. My brother, for instance,
was one of them. He helped me
when I was having trouble with some woman.
He listened to me without saying a word. He also listened
without saying a word when he was dying.
And I couldn’t help him. I don’t know
if I was ever able to help him with anything
as much as he helped me
arrange the furniture, for instance.
As he lay motionless in his bed
in the hospital I sadly explained what
progress I had made assembling my new bicycle.
He listened without saying a word, but I think he didn’t remember what I was talking about.
I changed the subject. Do you remember
that episode of this or that series?
My brother nods absently. Where in his sleep the hero
dreams his whole life away as somebody
else? His favorite episode!
Which of us now is dreaming his life
away as somebody else?
I don’t know why some of us live
our lives as though this was somebody
else’s life. That’s why I don’t make lists
of my favorite songs, people, movies or books.
I wouldn’t be able to name my favorite
series. And I don’t know why some people
are always so all-fired uptight that I get
uptight as well and start giving my wife a hard time
and everything turns stupid and hopeless and
somehow quite ordinary. I’m glad
I at least know which episode of this or that
series was my brother’s favorite.
What we choose loses its value. And even if
I believed in favorite things, I still wouldn’t know
how to choose them the way that summer
right before going back to my valley on the very first try
I managed once and for all to choose
my one and only long-suffering wife.

 

Translation by Michael Biggins

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