Blesok no. 23, October-November, 2001

The Return of the Defeated
Translated by: Zoran Ančevski

Srbo Ivanovski

The Roses on Aksya's Fingers

When we picked blackberries one September,
Behind the Bregalnitsa, on the Balvan meadows,
The younger daughter of the Cossack migrant
Ran to us with her hands bleeding. “Look, look, roses
Are blossoming on my fingers!” shouted Aksya in Russian,
Posmotrite! Posmotrite!
And no one knew
Which of the roses were thorn bites
And which kisses of the innocent fruit.

An Encounter with а Snake

You are the real wisdom
or the exciting betrayal
the fear and the subtle embroidery.
Your coldness took away the colours of the grass
when you passed through it meandering.

I wanted to move aside from your path
But where does a path lead
if our intention is not with it?

In no way can I place
my fear in a decent smile.

That Man in the Mirror

That Man in the last mirror
Who enters before the door opens
And then stands puzzled in the bright air
Is looking for a wall on which to write his time
Where he came from a while ago.
Then he'll stop the clock
Above the hearth Will take over the ash's fate
And will seize his own smouldered past
This is why he reaches for the hinges of the door
And wants to swing it open.

      13 June '96

My Father Ulysses

Under this sky
which does not spend the night in empty hearts
what once was seen or only heard
quickly goes away
miraculously changed from runaway to pursuer
who does not believe that would accompany us again
Look how his step grows weaker
How his time trickles away
And how he disappears in his own echo
In the deaf caverns of memory
And then suddenly his steps are heard again:
Pace of a weary horse
Trapped in thin reeds
With clouds of insects round his neck

My father said: the sky does not descend
In empty hearts
The saber does not wake
in a drowsy arm
And memory is the fastest horse
Which can take you the farthest

(Why he said this
once he lost his past
His past was dismembered
By the Cyclops of Revolution)

It seemed that he forgot that the sun's spring
Only points to the road of sunset
And that the star
which falls in the fountains of darkness
is just a gold coin
that someone throws from the balconies of night

(Yet the morning never forgets
to descend in the rooms of night)

And where could he descend
from the balcony of his own darkness
And what door was he then to open
In the house of bad weather
In the home of the defeated

The horse
The sharp saber
The vanished past
And the Cossack's crazy head
From the cave of memory
Which opens at times.

The Return of the Defeated

Did you ask yourselves
whether he would soon return
and whether he would take with him
his shadow
and whether he would tie his dog
to someone's smile
or to the thorn
which blossoms into an unknown word?

Did you believe
that winter should encourage
those who were missed by the summer
those whose silent star
stubbornly followed its own path?

Did you ask him
what he remembered or forgot?
Did you let him believe
that he was welcome
and offer him a place
at your table?

Did you bring out of the cellar
the wine
that you only offer to the victors?

The Departure of the Eels

While sitting
and waiting for the eels to leave
the stars were also alert
each turned toward its own

The distances passed by each other
like birds scared
from awakened darkness.

I know not where the eels will stop
in what waters their past
will sink away
but they know the path
of their dreams
they have the endurance to show them
the way back.

And you have a voice
which will encrust the distant shores
and return fertile
to another time.
Let it be visible as much as
the silvery trace of the snail
on the fresh palm of morning which
though fragile shines brightly.

Near to Death Near to Life

The town with which we fell asleep
and got up together
seems to be leaving
Deaf are its places of happiness
crammed with things we don't remember
Have we travelled the roads of our own choice
or were we negligent when we thought
that someone pushed the sun toward sunset
It would've been better if we'd believed
that we wavered into its shadow

The town emerges from the night's ruins
The lights of its windows
travel southward
The people get on it silently
The people get off it silently
Near to death near to life

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