The Book

by Arvis Viguls

One after another I touch my scars,
my only camouflage,
so I can remember, who I am.
I don’t know how to make the sign of the cross anymore –
this is my last ritual.

The oldest one is on my left shoulder –
from the smallpox vaccine –
round, like someone
put out a cigarette there.
That was my first baptism.

I have many fine scratches
all over my ten fingers –
one for each commandment.
As a kid I liked knives.
In those days there were no other toys.

I used to put all of the
sharp things I could find at home
in front of me on the table,
and give them names
like they give names to children.

They determine a horse’s age by its teeth,
the age of pains – by their scars.
And yet I’m still very young.
Here – and it must be said with a whisper –
there’s still a lot of space left.

Translated from Latvian by Jayde Will