Ice Photo: PxHere

6th April 2022


4 minutes read

Anna Terék

On The Way To Magadan

translated by Ágnes Márton

6th April 2022

4 minutes read

I’m wondering how far one’s desires

can be from another’s.

Aren’t you interested, mister?

You just laugh, oblivious

to the distance to Magadan.


What if we had gone


I would be watching the ice,

you’d be watching the endlessness,

this is how we would be mirrored

in that flat-frozen


Isn’t it how we exist?

I’m stock-still

and you seem to be infinite.


We would step on the ice

of Lake Baikal

so that we could listen

how it cracks.


We could’ve lived

a much happier life,

no matter how short.

It’s the most

hideous thing,

isn’t it?

You can’t tear or flake

yourself off,

you’ll still be attached

to this rotting world.


You’d be holding my hand,

I would kiss your mouth.

We could’ve coped

quite happily

without the world



It was a short while, I spent it

on running away from you,

waiting, looking back:

would you catch up?


Your long legs

are difficult to overcome.

So is, mister, to look into

your light eyes.

While you walk down the street,

you draw the shadows

behind you.

All of them.


See, eventually

I took to you.

I was fighting but to no avail.

True, you’ve seen war, much of it,

you are aware

how many moves

a capitulation must consist of.


One can be extremely smart,

a sharp word shot towards a good cause

always hulls.


And you fired upon me, mister.

A whole volley,

a cheerfully singing fire-squad

was hidden in your chest.

Now I’m wearing lacy holes.


Here we are,

on the shore of Lake Baikal,

on the way to Magadan.

You’re watching me, inviting me

to join you,

and I don’t dare step on the ice.

It’s almost whistling

while cracking under you.


The pain you have to carry

can earn you your real weight.


Everything could be crashed

if we both stepped

on the crackling ice of Lake Baikal

hand in hand.


For months, you didn’t give me time,

and now, with a smile, you ask me

to step on the ice, you’re waiting for me.

Well, waiting, not for an eternity,

but I should step, you don’t mind how slow.


I could’ve told you

how I fancied you:

I liked your blond beard, the way

you went grey, how lean you were.

And how odd, a light, thin

body can leave such deep traces.

Drops of rain add up

in your footprints.

See, there’s mud and puddles

here, in my chest.

They say, a path is trodden in us

by many people.


I know it’s a long way to Magadan.

I’m breathless already.

Every dawn tries to break

my neck,

every night casts me off

and I keep skipping to avoid

the leaks of sharded time:

life is thin, even if we dance, mister,

finally every foot steps into ice-cold water,

and finds the way home.


I’m obstinate, watching you,

your face, your never-ending


Hey, what’s the use of the heart

torn out of me?

What can you do with it at home?

Shred it with sharp knives?

Cut lacy holes in it

and put it in the window?

Or would it be lost

in the clutter of your searched-through flat

in-between scattered sheets of paper?


How beautiful. Right.

You know it’s fine like this.

At least an undetected piece of me

stays there

and accompanies you

wherever you go.

written by

Anna Terék

More about the author

translated by

Ágnes Márton

More about the translator


On The Way To Magadan by Anna Terék
In the brilliant translation of Ágnes Marton, Anna Terék's poem about longing, heartbreaks, and tragedies on the way to our mysterious destination, Magadan.
Black Snow by Anna Terék
An alcoholic father is drafted during the Yugoslav war, in a poem by Hungarian poet Anna Terék, translated by Belarussian poet Valzhyna Mort with Owen Good.