Design by Leopold Adi Surya

Poems from Sergius Seeks Bacchus

Translated by: 
Tiffany Tsao




On a Pair of Young Men in the Underground Parking Garage at fX Sudirman Mall


Is there anything more moving than two young men

in a Toyota Rush parked in the corner of level P3,

stealing a little time and space for themselves,

exchanging kisses wide-eyed – keeping watch as one

for security guards or janitors, in each other’s arms,

escaping the loneliness of another week living

someone else’s life. A friend dismissed

their feelings as unnatural urges 

but each of them knows who he is now. Both

are sure the longing they feel is genuine longing 

and the love in their hearts is the same love that made

Sergius and Bacchus one, and the loneliness they feel in their vacant rooms

is no different from John Henry Newman’s from 1876 to his death,

and isn’t it the rest of the world that has it all wrong?

Aelred of Rievaulx said there is nothing more exquisite

than to love and be loved – it’s true, even though they also

know that the world’s just not ready for us. 

Thérèse of Lisieux was baffled by how God played favourites,

why some souls were chosen over others,

why a sinner like Augustine of Hippo got to wear a white robe,

all shimmering and spotless. Even the two young men sometimes wondered

why they were the ones who had to be there to show love

could bloom anywhere, even in the dark, and

that love growing in the dark was no less life-giving.


To read the rest of Norman Erikson Pasaribu's poems, and everything else in Issue 33, visit our eShop to take out a subscription or buy a print or digital copy.

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Norman Erikson Pasaribu’s poems are translated from his collection, Sergius Mencari Bacchus [Sergius Seeks Bacchus], published by Gramedia Pustaka Utama.

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