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Time and Unacceptable Human DestinyAleksandar Ristovic
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Vol. 21 No. 1 · 7 January 1999
Poem

Time and Unacceptable Human Destiny

Aleksandar Ristovic

437 words

I see small coaches passing between the trees.
I try to catch them with one hand,
but they continually slip away
to the sound of young women giggling
from the pleasure they take in riding about.

Partridges fly out of the grass, but it’s some other
century, some other grass, and the partridges
are not always partridges, but some other bird,
and at times they are even animals.

I see the flowers you’ve strewn on the floor for my sake.
I see the glass where the drink that was warm yesterday
is now cooling. I find myself before somebody
else’s door, where I reach for the bell or call out a name.

In fact, I’m that young man with thick spectacles in the library.
I flirt with a lady who wears them too and has
an interest in creative writing. She’s all in white
and her smile reveals a row of white teeth
over which she has stuck cellophane like a child.

I see the house where we’ll spend our remaining years:
our faces redden in the evening by the small fire
in the big stove. The horses, too, are inside the house
and their presence is truly necessary,
for we have many plans and they include the horses.

There’s also a woman who does not know me,
who pretends she doesn’t see me,
although I see her huge breasts which have the ability
to speak, as do her feet, stamping the beat
for a certain music lover.

I see the shadows of friends, angelic or devilish.
Some are already dead and know how to converse
with the dead. The others stand in the road pointing
at the Lord and his son,
who imitates everything his father does.

The north wind blows the snow under the door –
and we like that. There’s plenty of snow outside,
but the little inside the house is a magic presence.
We won’t sweep it till morning, even if the door
refuses to open after many tries.

I see an old man in place of me: he sits
on the doorstep wielding a pencil
while composing verses of uneven quality.
The pages, covered with writing, lie scattered
around the shoes he has taken off
and his almost transparent feet.

Soon, I’ll call him into the house,
where they’re ladling bean soup this evening
and where they can barely speak with mouths full,
so they use their hands and are fitfully understood
by those who do not, making them smile
at the housewife who uses my poems for a dish rag.

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