A Dog in the Quarry

by Miroslav Holub

The day was so bright
that even birdcages flew open.
The breasts of lawns
heaved with joy
and the cars on the highway
sang the great song of asphalt.
At Lobzy a dog fell in the quarry
and howled.
Mothers pushed their prams out of the park opposite
because babies cannot sleep
when a dog howls,
and a fat old pensioner was cursing the Municipality:
they let the dog fall in the quarry and then leave him there,
and this, if you please, has been going on since morning.
Towards evening the trees
stopped blossoming
and the water at the bottom of the quarry
grew green with death.
But still the dog howled.

Then along came some boys
and made a raft out of two logs
and two planks.
And a man left on the bank
a briefcase, in which bread is planted
in the morning
so that by noon
crumbs may sprout in it
(the kind of briefcase in which documents
and deeds
would die of cramp),
he laid aside his briefcase
and sailed with them.

Their way led across a green puddle
to the island where the dog waited.
It was a voyage like
the discovery of America,
a voyage like
the quest of Theseus.
The dog fell silent,
the boys stood like statues
and one of them punted with a stick,
the waves shimmered nervously,
tadpoles swiftly
flickered out of the wake,
the heavens
>stood still,
and the man stretched out his hand.

It was a hand
reaching out across the ages,
it was a hand
one world with another,
Life and death,
it was a hand
joining everything together,
it caught the dog by the scruff of its neck

and then they sailed back
to the music of
an immense fanfare
of the dog’s yapping.

It was not a question of that one dog.

It was not a question of that park.

Somehow it was a question
of our whole childhood,
all of whose mischiefs
will eventually out,
of all our loves,
of all the places we loved in
and parted never to meet again,
of every prospect
happy as grass,
unhappy as bone,
of every path up or down,
of every raft and all the other machines
we search for at our lathes
and drawing-boards,
of everything we are reaching out for
round the corner of the landscape.

It was not an answer.

There are days when no answer is needed.

Last updated March 31, 2023