Kristian Koželj

First Communion, forty-two and the unnamed
January 24, 2024 Koželj Kristian

First Communion


I shall sit here, on this bench,
in the first snow,
here, atop of this knoll
they call Golgotha,
I shall sit right by the chapel,
not so much out of faith
more out of habit
but mostly for the view.
To see the town
and my entire life and the Alps.
I turned eighty-two this year
and the way things are going
I’m not sure I will ever see the
snow falling at night again.


A few steps farther on, in the dusk, three men,
their eyes gouged out and noses broken off
each of them so neatly crucified,
and beneath a couple of gloomy looking women
with no hands.
One of the men, the middle one,
looks at one of the women
and says to me:
Mom, all is well, mom, I don’t suffer anymore,
mom, nobody will suffer anymore.
Not yet, my dear one, not yet.


The way things are going, even the winter nights
aren’t how I remember them anymore,
my ligaments and bones aren’t how I remember
them anymore,
they are becoming flexible and willing.
The horizon is shrinking,
it is warm, too warm for January,
the Alps so close I could grasp them.
May of 1952, my first communion,
I am a little girl in a white dress,
my grandma’s warm eyes, saying:
My little angel
And I’m not sure, I’m really not sure
If I’ll ever see snow falling again.


(Translated by Kristian Koželj)




he inherited from his mother,
along with the debts, two clay pots
of oleander and rosemary.
one day, when he was out buying alcohol,
a girl shoved a Christmas cactus
into his hands. it was December
and it had forty-two vibrant blooms.
the cactus gave the room some color
and he took care of it
as though it were a child.
one evening, when another woman
packed her bags,
he threw it out the window, drunk.
ten silent floors lower,
it shattered, and the blooms
fluttered like dying fireflies.


somewhere along the way,
the oleander and the rosemary had dried as well.



the unnamed


the square in front of the train station
could be any of the six squares in this city
and the fountain on it
any of the three thousand fountains in this country
and when the bells of a nearby church toll
it could be any of the countless churches in this world
any of the seven billion people
might sit down on the bench beside you
but the square has a name
the fountain has a name
the church has a name
and she who has sat down beside you
has a name
and her hair smells
like sandalwood

Kristian Koželj (born 1984) is a Slovenian poet, actor, and mentor to young artists. His poems and essays have been published in distinguished literature magazines in Slovenia and abroad. He published his first book of poems Muzej zaključenih razmerij (Museum of Broken Relationships) in 2018. He has been a member of Brothers Vajevec Actors’ Studio in Ljubljana since 2012.He is recipient of several awards, among others the national award for the best essay awarded by the prominent Slovenian magazine for literature Sodobnost in 2018 and vitez poezije (knight of poetry) award in 2021. In 2018 he founded an international festival for poetry and performance Izrekanja and has been its artistic director since.