Two Poems

Aleksandar Ristovic

translated by Charles Simic

Purgatory

We never even felt our share of the eternal
in what was our life: the moments
from which these bursts of activity
and lethargy are made up,
the similarity between here and there
in inner and outer space. We exchanged life
for its semblance, the object for its shadow,
the visible coin for the invisible riches
whose origins are unknown and whose value
is ambiguous: the body for a wee spirit,
the residue of this creation out of nothing,
as in a diaphanous box. Drop by drop
the borders are in motion, purgatory is open
for those of us holding a carving knife,
a rope, and a hoop made of wood.

Regarding Walking on Water

I’m trying to walk on water,
and you know, at times,
somehow, I manage to do so.

Believe me, the trick is
to fix on something else
besides one’s own gravity.

And so, here I am
teaching others to walk on water.
They wet the bottom of their trousers, but they learn.

Thus, when a few of us find ourselves walking on water,
we lean into one another’s faces
and scream with excitement.

My wife also walks on water;
sometimes all alone.
She carries a small apple in her hands and doesn’t make a peep.