In the latest issue:

In Quarantine

Erin Maglaque

Après Brexit

Ferdinand Mount

Short Cuts: Springtime for Donald

David Bromwich

Meetings with their Gods

Claire Hall

‘Generation Left’

William Davies

At the North Miami Museum: Alice Paalen Rahon

Mary Ann Caws

Buchan’s Banter

Christopher Tayler

‘American Dirt’

Christian Lorentzen

Fiction and the Age of Lies

Colin Burrow

In Lahore

Tariq Ali


James Lasdun

Rereading Bowen

Tessa Hadley

At the Corner House

Rosemary Hill

William Gibson

Thomas Jones

Poem: ‘Murph & Me’

August Kleinzahler

The Stud File

Kevin Brazil

John Boorman’s Quiet Ending

David Thomson

In Shanghai: The West Bund Museum

John-Paul Stonard

Diary: The Deborah Orr I Knew

Jenny Turner

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

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.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Read More

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences