Poems by Tibor Juhász
(Translated by Imre Olivér Horváth)
Square Metres of Life
In a fifty-something square metre
two-bedroom studio flat she spends
her years. Her body has slowly assumed
the angular outlines of the cabin-like kitchen:
she squeezes her arms to her ribs,
bends her knees and stoops. She moves her
hands so quick as a department store cashier.
Bent and tired like this, she takes her children
to the playground of the block,
where the indistinguishable lot,
wives gather in the afternoons.
She ignores her boys. She is numb,
numb after the day of cleaning,
cooking, vacuuming, and dusting the books
piled up on the shelf hundred times a day,
the ones she bought to occupy herself during
maternity leaves. Sometimes she feels
short of breath and goes out to the balcony,
strokes the handrail–this needs a coat of paint,
she thinks, then closes her eyes and faces
the parallel towers of balconies.
Children of the Block
They are sweaty, and dirty with the dust
in the air. Their jaws drop in awe
of the heavy machines slowly, steadily
eating the earth and making new mountains
behind the tiptoeing block. They stare
at the dead arms of the tower cranes
coming alive, easily lifting hunks of iron
up into the air and putting them gently aside
as if these panels were made of light material.
Tiny men working up on the scaffolding
tell them to keep out: it is a dangerous
area, the future is still under construction.
The children move on and from a distance
they gaze at the towering town, till the sky
closes their eyes with its blinding blueness.
To István Kemény
The management of the factory had the buildings
resembling brick drying sheds made into dwellings.
In construction, foundation and insulation was
of no interest, and so in times of heavy rain,
the ankle-deep water from the streets flooded
into the sheds, under the doors. Electricity
was installed to the block during the 50s,
and plumbing was sorted out a decade later
in the small upper sections at the back as well.
Brickers lived on the factory site in a community.
Their brick barracks were so cramped that they knew
at all times what their neighbours were doing.
Generations grew up between furnaces, warehouse
and piled-up forests of bricks. Their workplace
was just a few minutes’ walk from their home,
so these people knew from the beginning
where the block ends and factory begins.
Tibor Juhász was born Salgótarján in 1992. He studies at the Debrecen University. He is the editor of literature at the online cultural magazine KULTer.hu and is the main organizer of KULTerdő, a series of events of the magazine. His first volume of poetry, Ez nem az a környék (This is not that kind of place) was published in 2015; his book of short stories, Salgó blues is coming up in 2018.