Blesok no. 49, July-August, 2006
Elegy About an Acacia Under the Window
Translated by: Zoran Paunović / Svetozar Koljević
Elegy About an Acacia Under the Window, 1.
How many times have you seen this treetop,
its leaves quivering or at peace,
its twigs thin as burst
capillaries on an eye;
that tree trunk, upright
as an exclamation mark,
and the branches, spreading aside
as if fumbling for something.
You were afraid that you would not find
the words for a poem,
that you might lose it:
as if a poem could disappear,
vanish, turn into silence, into air.
In autumn, the tree used to lose its leaves,
in spring it would get them again.
So it seemed to you.
And the acacia was there, under your
window, unable to move –
except in a stormy nightmare.
Elegy About an Acacia Under the Window, 2.
The fallen leaves roll along
the asphalt, slowly changing
their colour, from green to dark brown.
More and more they resemble
faces of children at dusk, when the day wanes.
So many times you watched that tree
and it offered itself to your glance,
indifferent, with its breath abate.
Its root hair, its tissue, the juices that
feed the body that wriggles
and breaks away from the firm embrace
of your consciousness. Maybe you do not see it
but the tree looks straight
into your eyes.
Elegy About an Acacia Under the Window, 3.
Those leaves, green and soft as words,
decaying and rotting, going back
to the earth, wherefrom they sprang.
Are you still afraid
that the poem might escape from you?
The poem does not throw away its words.
The verses – whom can they return to?
Who do they come from at all?
You are still at the window. Watching.
The treetop, that murmuring whirlpool,
focuses in a point
as small as an eye pupil.
The asphalt is like the white of the eye.
The wind slides over it
like an eyelid over the eye.
The earth has your features.
And this is not a window, but a mirror.
How many times have you approached it,
and you never realised that,
God, give me strength to accept
Peacefully the share of suffering
Allotted to me;
Never to call the pain that
Creeps into my soul an intruder
Or a guest.
The room in which I dwell
Is well-lit, and open.
And give me strength not to
Become proud, for joy,
For those moments of bliss
When I took the world
Into a lover’s
Nerves of a leaf, sparkling
Of the river’s surface, odour
Of lime-trees in bloom, a shell
Buried in the sand, clouds
Dark background of the sky.
All of that is so real
That it surely is within me.
I am weak. That’s why I talk.
The scene extends to the verge of my look,
Then it soars down. The rain
Pours down the gutter. The pool
That is being formed in the hollow on the asphalt
Will cheat someone with its reflection.
The grass sways, the earth shivers.
The mole cricket, horrified, startles
In its narrow passageway.
On its glass stalk.
Darkness disperses like dust.
I am always surprised by light.
The tips of my fingers have bloomed.
The world around me exists.
My head is a grape of vine.
A quivering curtain.
A coil of veins.
Pits tightly packed in a membrane.
My body melts like wax
On fire. My thoughts
Are frail as cobweb.
You who see everything, you did not guard me
As the apple of your eye.
You who sleep in everything, you did not
Let me have
A quiet night’s sleep.
You, who in your heart bear every law,
Who created the fish and the bird,
And the wavering growth,
Why did you, oh Lord, turn your face on me?
Why did you let me see you?
For I know very well the fate
Of the one who sees your face?
You who rule over all,
Your power unchallenged.
You whose arms spread into infinity,
Why, between your thumb and index finger,
Between heaven and earth,
You squeeze my head?
Why, oh Lord?
Opaque and bitter is
The juice from my head.
What do I look like
In your eyes now?
A whirl of sand
By the wind?
Or have I kept
Some of my persistent outlines,
So that in your mind's eye
You can see me as a ghost
Asleep in a quarry?
Perhaps you understand
What I'm getting at.
I am glad you are
In a shelter, safe,
Far from everything