Blesok no. 63, November-December, 2008

Seven Windows Fronting the Courtyard of Gundulić Street
Translated by: Sibila Petlevski

Branko Čegec

fifth window

First she delivered her smile on a mossy tray, then she filled in the contents: the freshness of clean linen trickled down her unrestrainable hands; one part of the wet fabric after another drew the outlines of the shadow of nostalgia and her young body: silky cry of a dress, terry towels, unbearably white shirts and panties, tiny, timid, translucent, lace-trimmed panties in her frolicsome fingers appeared on the screen of the window, nervous filaments of hair caught in a draught, as well-like Levi's commercial pathos-a warm smile, moistened lips and insuperable distance between two windows fronting each other.

sixth window

A howl, a cry, a sob, joy, death: when a certain event becomes inevitable and when it's impossible to make out the dynamics, I just close my eyes sinking into the whirlpool of sounds, partly cacophonous, partly like cannon fire of youth and fear, they let me extract from them nothing but thanatos, but, anyway, my younger brother died like all of them, descending the empty pages of the assigned reading toward eternity that repeats itself, just for us, like a film frame or a bitter scene on the stage in the cellar of the city without people, without flower-beds, without calligraphy.

seventh window

And when I, unbearably boring and thoroughly edgy, joined the promenade of gun-powder recollections, shutters drooped. There is only rotten, crumbly wood shielding the view, secrets in the crevices, the outline of an oleander, the reek of train station from which endless threads of voyage creep into the arctic cold night. Good night.

first window

A green coil and a pair of shoes on the sill. The wings of the casement are wide apart, a flutter of stale air and sweat between them. Sharp at noon, while the shot fired from Grich still booms and the storm frays the visible scrap of the sky; some girl's laughter is coming closer and the naked body of the man in slippers approaches the horse herd of apathetic middle-aged women on the staircase of the neighboring building.

second window

A long-legged girl sprawled on an old-fashioned sofa carelessly roams through the pages of a rediscovered book. The fatigued smell about her blends with the damp of the room from which I take down the notes of helplessness and lust. The whiteness of the body shivers, hanging on the quivering thread of a renewed reading. The borderline between remembering and discovering becomes invisible: only a row of domestic ants and the sprinkled window-pane recalls the worn out pages of the chronicle from which I came right now, on 7 July 1992.

third window

Petty official's kitchen in the square of a window: droppers and spices and the hot plate of a makeshift stove from which rises up a hulking torso, a gleaming bald spot and hands full of hunger: this is how food takes on a shape, assumes a sound detached from the taste and that nostalgia for the smeli which, settled as sediment on the table, between manuscripts, in drawers crammed with the past debauchery, dies away today at noon, sharp, while the darkness of the curtain falls down the opening and the velvety laughter of the shepherdess to find its dwelling-place in a lithographic print. This is how the reign of melancholy and hunger finally got re-established.

fourth window
(macrobiotic animal)

Here the theme places itself under the quarantine of a looking-glass. Lips and lip-sticks, hairstyles and eye-shades: a hairpin beams with the smile of a slovenly woman who calls the anarchic fingers of cosmetics as witnesses to her sad history. A saccharine Lucifer is at the helm; scudding across the glass of the open sea, he sweeps New York away with a mast; the night is mild and the breakfast skipped by carnival dreams and fashion runways deep down in the fifties makes the morning.

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