Hungary
Krisztina Tóth
Hungary
A poetess, writer, translator and artist of stained glass windows. She is the winner of several awards, including the Graves Prize (1996), Déry Tibor Prize (1996), József Attila Prize (2000) and her poetry and prose have been translated into many languages. Since her first collection of short stories was published in 2006 she is listed amongst the best contemporary  writers of Central Europe. Krisztina Tóth lives in Budapest, where apart from writing and translating poetry, she designs and produces stained glass windows. She was recently awarded the Laureate Prize, one of the highest recognition in Hungarian literature.

THE YEAR OF SNOWS

  I The way I still picture my childhood hiding-places tents around the house. The camera obscura of curtain or table-cloth bolt-holes drifted with light and secret things. Is something like the way I fixed your laugh your teeth your mouth. The echo-chamber of that year to unlock it now is deafening. That year of whispering clothes of snow of blind clouds at the folding-in of day. Of a short Christmas it was a slushing year with eyes shut. Of the body of the soul I lay sure I’d never rise from where I lay. The year of the purple bedspread the motley glass its yellow smear of light. Shining like a sun for one who watched the darkness pinch it out. I wanted you to hear me and once once I wished you dead and gone. It was the mumble of the pipes the face of wallpaper the bed of lights. The long throats of the plumbing gagged with hair along. You were naked in the stairwell in the shower in the lift. It was the year of tears of unbuttoned rush in that vast draughted house. I thought I don’t know perhaps I knew but never quite believed. It was the year of snows of white untrodden paths and nothing else.   II The way the teenage me would circle endless afternoons of snow. The silences the sleeping the furniture of dusk. The fault-lines in the drifts of snow its midnight blue. The way the moon span a searchlight face bright in the body-dark. Is something like the way the bitter useless juices come around and go around. It’s just the soul its endless talking to itself you said. Every love a dream of speech the nothing-there of sound. When it repeats the words of a tongue of flame gone dead. It happened long ago all of it the geometry of stairs. The machinery of wind through a strange garden’s keening trees. A body bent and posted flushed in empty playing fields of air. Stands in the open wheels and wheels where no one sees. What did time want with us oh what a year it was and oh. Of long frosts of scarves of eyelashes silence. I replied I don’t believe and now now I don’t know. It was the year of snows of white untrodden paths and nothing else.   III In silence in darkness lying sitting waiting sleeping for ages. I lived as if under snow as if the house were avalanched in snow. I was fevered by the far-off rooms of lamps by far-off faces. Everything that I am not my home a body of glass of dreams their echo. Of everybody’s possible end mirrored in the ice-floe curtain. The windows flare they move and flow across the walls and rooms. Across the park the melting ground is smeared with all the colours of rain. Darkness settles on bench and trashcan road and gravel-bed and roof. How many years since I lived here from every window this is what I saw. In the cloudy frozen fluffy sky all clear all speckled with crows. The childhood coo of turtle-doves and how it comes at sundown as before. The foghorn of the balcony how I can hear it here I do not know. Where the time blows when did winter’s pass begin. The wax and wane of the winter moon of a friend’s face of a lover’s face. That there was something else before that snow-blind start that folding-in. It was the year of snows of white untrodden paths and nothing else.   Krisztina Tóth English translated by Antony Dunn