Thursday, February 21, 2013

Two Poems by Dusan Gojkov

the vernal

I know that the poplar beneath your window
is shooting
young leaves
and that the magnolias and tulips
across the road
are in blossom
yet I give your street
a wide berth
as, gods knows why,
I remember the beautiful vow
we made long ago:
“my body will wait for yours
under a rock somewhere”—

by what accident
through which torn pockets
did we ever lose
those mornings
the grey ones
the warm ones
mornings of every kind
those evenings
spent to a glass of wine
quiet music
and glances exchanged
through sunlit eyes
those nights
in which I was
calm, quiet,
curled up next to you

on the other hand
the rumors are true
I still manage
to bring a smile to a woman's face
every now and then
and some of them even venture
to my distant suburb
for no other reason
but to bring me chocolate
fruit cake
a bottle of wine
a new book
to have a cup of tea
or a different drink

”life goes on”
say the wise
but I suspect that
those pictures
which spin around me all night
and all day
that hole in my guts
that void in my heart
will not be mended by time
or modern medicine

I know
we have wasted much
deliberately or accidentally
much that we could have done
for each other instead
I know, I know

under a
I slide down Lorca street
(it is quite clear that new shoes are
long overdue)
I arrive home
feed the turtle
sit in the armchair
taking strict care not to
look at the corner of the room
where your painting gear used to stand
your easel
and things

on the table next to me are
a bottle
a glass
coffee untouched since this morning
and a vase
with those weird little yellow flowers
I can never remember the name of
which (OK, I’m ashamed)
I stole for myself last night
from the little park
across the road

I light my cigarette
gaze at nothing in particular
and let the yellow petals
quietly shed on my shoulder

other people’s memories

I remember
portobello road
where I first touched you
to draw your attention
to a beautiful façade
the passers-by
were running from the rain
the fruit-sellers
closing their stalls
I remember
the church portal
where we listened to
the warmth of silence
I remember
watching you sleep
with your lips puckered
and listening
to your deep breathing
I remember the sheet
over your hips
in a tender
I can’t remember
what your eyebrows were like
I remember
the row of trees
which cut through the vineyard
the persistent wind
and the way we walked slowly
with your hand
in the pocket of my coat
this may sound corny
but before I met you
there was really something missing
I remember
your letters
which you left on the pillow every morning
while I was still asleep
I remember
how you waited patiently
for me to finish
looking at three paintings by monet
and remember
watching you dance
to music
all alone
and our long walks
in the streets around the covent garden
I remember us
in a train
tangled together, sleeping
as we travelled
or our little room
for rich tourists
above the café de la paix
too expensive but that’s what you wanted
the square
was teeming with people
I remember
the record that played
on and on
over and over again
(tom waits, closing time, I think)
I remember
holding your hand
when you were afraid
I remember
the restaurant with the name I’ve forgotten
but which I could
still find
with my eyes closed
and our silence
stretching for hours
to a bottle of wine
hell, that was an ugly silence
and this is the book
I bought that Saturday
when I waited for you to finish at the hairdresser’s
the streets were moist
with last night’s rain
or the street washers’ efforts
it was early morning
still a bit nippy
and we went
to have coffee together
but we didn’t have coffee
because we had to shout at each other a little first
so things felt awkward afterwards
I remember you
watering the flowers
singing to them quietly
so they would grow better
and how, cheeks flushed, after work,
you downed a tumbler of cognac
to which I objected
have some respect
that’s good stuff
I remember
the spring in Greece
when you sobered me up
with olive oil and vinegar
you followed the advice
of the women in our neighbourhood
that’s how they tortured
their husbands
then came the summer
and the two of us, sunburnt,
lay prostrate in our room
with a big wet towel
across our backs
and we whispered: listen
the heat is so strong that it buzzes
at night
we sat on the terrace
nuzzling the cold chenin blanc
that’s when we discovered it
I look at your profile
as you take your shoe off
to shake out the beach sand
and at your foot
my God, what a foot that was
I remember
how you fought with the waiter
when he brought me the wrong drink
not the one I’d ordered
how we made love
with the TV on
a romantic movie blaring
I teach you my tongue
by rolling poetry off it
I see you
sitting on the edge of the bath
while I am shaving
you are massaging in face cream
the hydrating make-up base
I see you collecting dry leaves around the garden
only the beautiful ones;
they still fall out
from books long left unopened
I remember
when you went to another room
to make secret phone calls
I pretended to read the paper
the financial reports
God forgive me, I was so…
I remember
your dog
our puppy, rather
who came up to the bed every morning
and burrowed between us
I remember
The first time you left
I looked out of the window
into an empty street
into the night
there was a poster for a cowboy movie
across the road
the radiators were cold
the boiler in the bathroom
your eyes
were there as soon as I closed mine
I remember
the smell of your clothes
forgotten in the cupboard
a large cardboard box
full of photos
God, what did I do with them?
Which one of my house moves
was the end of them?
I remember
quiet evenings
you painting
and me writing
or reading in the armchair
I remember
The flowers which kept arriving
each morning
suffusing the apartment
with their oppressive smell
perhaps I should have asked
who was sending them
I remember the night sounds
your breathing
and the muffled song of the drunks
coming from below
I remember how,
when you were to go “somewhere”,
I hurried you along
so you wouldn’t be late
pretending to have no clue
and how you came back
from hospital alone
with blue
rings around your eyes
something needed saying
I know
As soon as I was away
you packed your suitcases
toiletry bags
some of the things even spilled over
into the woven basket for the market
I remember
your silence in answer to my question
I remember
my silence in answer to your silence
I remember gazing through the window
and the sound of your key on the kitchen table
and the sound of the apartment door, opening
I remember
hitting you on the face
(All my life, my hand will follow
That trajectory)
and I remember you crying
well before impact

DUŠAN GOJKOV is a poet, short story writer, novelist, essayist, journalist, radio drama director. Published few books, and some prose and poetry in dozen Yugoslav (Serbian / Croatian / Bosnian / Macedonian) and foreign anthologies. Translated to several languages.

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