Fear


I am afraid I may be Ilia
the wild duck mired in the oil.

What if, instead, I'm Algernon
the white mouse in the maze,

or Pompilius, the dog in the laboratory
with the cancer graft under his skin?

I am afraid. What if the bull calf
with the new moon marking his forehead

–the one chosen for slaughter–
is really who I am? I have a fear

that maybe I am Bonnie
the chimpanzee who died

in the solitude of the spacecraft . . .
But no, I know I'm Anna, and afraid,

for knowing this, I know I live
until the debt I owe for this is paid.


  Hungarian; trans. Daniel Hoffman


Anna Hajnal, Hungarian, trans. Daniel Hoffman, Modern Hungarian Poetry, Miklos Vajda, ed., Columbia University Press, 1977.