Translated from the Macedonian by Ljubica Arsovska and edited by Patricia Marsh Stefanovska

Time trampled on you the moment you set out.
In the coach across the border
the conductor wiped the seats
with a brochure on human rights someone left behind.
Rain didn’t beat against the windows of the other passengers,
it was only yours that the raindrops hit like stones,
just like at the exit from a metro station you know
where it’s always raining
and the little orphans sniff glue from plastic bags
sprawled on the escalators.
Your soul shivered in the buffer zone,
your body gaped like a cupboard emptied before moving out,
the night was the senselessness of the daytime sense.
You dreamt in snatches an unending dream of how
the nineteenth century travels around with a beard
like a drunk loser,
how the twentieth century has a haircut and a shave
at the town barber’s,
and how the twenty-first runs frantically between the two.
In the first city the Politkovskaya Club awaits you
in the second—the Joyce Irish Pub,
in the third—white houses with lace curtains
and a notice: Today is Dr. Roberto’s funeral.
White underwear hung
from the balconies of Hell.
But Heaven’s balconies
have long run out of clotheslines and pegs
to hang washed brains out to dry.
Grannies in the corners of the neighbourhood
didn’t even hold out a hand any more.
On the table in the small room of your fellow countryman:
two volumes of Das Kapital and a key for the toilet.
An empty noose dangled from the ceiling light.
If everything is all right, one day
you too will become a postman here.
You’ll unlock the town’s cemetery
with a key from a big keyring
and read to the dead women
the letters from their dead husbands.
And then the neighbourhood boys
in their long black coats
will come upon you
and afterwards no one will
remember you any more,
not that you were here nor that you were born somewhere else.

 


 

Патување

Времето те прегази во мигот кога тргна.
Во автобусот преку границата
кондуктерот ги избриша седиштата
со заборавена брошура за човековите права.
Врз прозорците на другите патници не врнеше,
само врз твојот капките удираа како камења,
исто како на излезот од едно познато метро
кај што врне без престан
и малите сирачиња дуваат лепак во пластични ќесиња
исполегнати на подвижните скали.
Душата ти трепереше во тампон зоната,
телото ти зјаеше како испразнет шкаф пред селидба,
ноќта беше бесмислата на денската смисла.
Со прекини сонуваше нераскинлив сон:
како деветнаесеттиот век патува наоколу брадосан
божем пијан губитник,
како дваесеттиот век се стрижи и бричи во градска берберница,
а дваесет и првиот безглаво трча помеѓу нив.
Во првиот град те пречека Клубот Политковскаја,
во вториот - ирскиот паб Џојс,
во третиот - бели куќи со завеси од тантели
и со некролог: денес ќе го погребеме д-р Роберто.
Од балконите на пеколот
висеше долна бела облека.
На балконите во рајот, пак,
одамна снема јажиња и штипки
за сушење испрани мозоци.
Бабичките во ќошињата на квартот
не пружаа повеќе ни рака.
На масата во сопчето на твојот сонародник:
два тома од Капиталот и клуч за тоалетот.
Од лустерот се нишаше слободна јамка.
Ако биде сѐ добро, еден ден овде
ќе станеш и ти поштар
кој со врзопче клучеви
ќе ги отклучува градските гробишта
и на мртвите жени ќе им ги чита
писмата од мртвите мажи.
И тогаш ќе те пресретнат
маалските момчиња
во долги црни капути
и потоа никој повеќе
нема да се сеќава на тебе

ни дека си бил тука ни дека си се родил некаде.

More by Lidija Dimkovska

from Projection

But I know that you know how your palms itch when you're alone,
when the electricity goes off,
and the silence whirls in your stomach.
I know that you know how hard it is
to dress in white after wearing black,
to have your arms not merge into the day
but be signs by the road,
and to have nobody, Laurie, nobody travel
down your roads.

Related Poems

The Spinning Place

Thomas Stevens took a giant spin, becoming the first person to complete a trip around Earth by bicycle.
New York Times

Sometime on the third day of Hungary,
she joins him. Day and night, day
and night, propelled by the will of his legs,

he has been alone. Until now.
She is light and deft, a quixotic velocity.
She points at churches, at gypsies,

laughs and floods the unraveling road
with a language he cannot understand.
The inflection of asking lifts the hem

of her words. To him each note in her
impossible tongue asks, What are you afraid of?
When will you live in one city again?

Above them, a hawk spirals and dips. To it the world
is a brambled field, each day as simple as the hunt
for what invisible feet tunnel there.

He sees the twentieth century loom before them.
Buildings rise and fall. Great crowds cross
borders. Capitals change names. Call of birds

gone extinct. There are no cities, he says, only this
pedaled cartography of unbelonging.
The blue distills into granules of stars

and the air is hymnic, honeyed
with last light. He has not said what he meant.
She turns to go back the way

they came, the distance between them unspooled
and irrevocable, held in place by the flash
of spinning spokes, that bright and restless carousel.

This Living Hand [excerpt]

It's not only the word roses
lurking inside neurosis or the fact
that most of my formal education
occurred in the midwest, so too
my summer job inhaling industrial
reactants should be considered.
It's an unstable world, babe.
Always an inner avalanche
as they say in receiving.
I'm sure if I'd gotten a shot
of Karl instead of Zeppo Marx
in utero, things would have turned out
differently. Instead, my mother
went right on eating lobster.
But where were we? . . .

Glass House

Everything obeyed our laws and
we just went on self-improving
till a window gave us pause and
there the outside world was, moving.

Five apartment blocks swept by,
the trees and ironwork and headstones
of the next town's cemetery.
Auto lots. Golf courses. Rest homes.
Blue-green fields and perishable vistas
wars had underscored in red
were sweeping past,
with cloudscapes, just

as if the living room were dead.
Which way to look? Nonnegative?
Nonplussed? (Unkilled? Unkissed?)
Look out, you said; the sight's on us:

If we don't move, we can't be missed.