The town, intact, glimmers from afar,
early morning, on the threshold of the tremor.
Patterned with hairline-cracks, unprepared
for the angel of the lord and his blazing sword.
The photographic mind records the sequence:
someone, as usual, buys his sleeping pills from the chemist's,
walks out of Mary's Pharmacy,
and gets into his car at the Old Market Square.
By the next morning, there is neither Pharmacy,
nor car; the Old Market Square is gone.
Only the Dresden, who was kept awake that night,
the one who now looks around the deep, flattened ground.
The survivor will never confide.
He is sure what happened is irreparable.
Anyone who stubbornly insists on
a featureless corner house is regarded as nostalgic —
it wasn't he who built it, it wasn't even built in his
lifetime, although the ruins buried his bric-a-brac.
The nostalgic one re-conquers the perimeter of a house
from the desert, digs down to the core of primal mass,
collects shapeless boulders scorched black at one thousand
five hundred Celsius and numbers them accurately.
Then inch by inch he re-fabricates every nook
in his garden just as it was,
replaces stray pearls in their case and breathes life into them.
The result is a magnificent fraud.
A past-less forgery, barefaced,
imitating its own original.
Someone with a bridegroom's excitement
stops at the right bank of the Elbe,
exactly where Canaletto stretched his canvas:
before his eyes, the only possible contour.
János Térey translated by Agnes Lehóczky