Macedonian Week of the Festival


/ by Mersiha Ismajloska

30th August the birthday of my mother. Me lying on the sunbed. Me lying under fool moon in aged Greece. Thinking of women in red skirts in one of the monasteries. Like seeing Margaret Atwood’s handmaids. Like being in a world, inside the world. Another world of woman in jeans at the same place at same time. Who is who?

Is it possible, the reality of a dream in which me is one of the handmaids set on a ritual vulture, in some other country where sacrifice is not accepted. Me in jeans, sacrifice is accepted.

30.08 Birthday of my mother. The ground beneath my feet is full of stones cleaned with lake water. Me lying under fool moon. Two weeks ago Aretha Franklin died. Time immediately got its form. Her voice is that form. She, Sam Cooke, childhood friends, family and

I was born by the river

In a little tent

And just like the river I've been running

Ever since

That river is black and deep. The name “She” means “dream”. River that dreams. Swimming under fool moon in an aged river. Go with the flow, lyrics from some song coming from the café by the river bank. To the source (кон изворот), I’m saying to myself in Macedonian, like saying the most intimate spell that nobody should hear. Thinking of women in red skirts in one of the monasteries. Could have be me.

Years ago, my mother celebrating her birthday. We speak about my first words, words of love, sounds that create security, sounds that create courage to stand and to explain until today. Even silence can be explained through words. Like making something unpermitted in a dreamer’s way. When at the same moment a river speaks for its springs and its sea. Like a river and a dreamer being same, and


They never learn

They never learn

Beyond the point

Of no return

Of no return

Then it's too late

The damage is done

The damage is done

Daydreaming of Thom Yorke and daydreaming of the water. Dreams of other worlds that lead to some kind of crossroad of no return to the familiar perception of ourselves.

The damage is done!? Different answers from different perception, from different points of view, like different dream worlds collapsing in one. Moment of waking. Eating homemade “gurabia” with Leyla’s mother in Croatia, like eating cloud cookies, like eating a soft and sweet homemade cloud cookie, like eating moon, deep in the night, moon diving in the sea, in the lake. Mixing of the waters, only rivers know how that is possible.

Sweet quarrel with Mona from Egypt, in Malta, should we have traditional or machine coffee, with “gurabia”, brought from Macedonia. At the end she is preparing musta tee, from Finland. Magic is done. Her friend from Montenegro smiling during drinking traditional coffee, without sugar. Waking life or daydreaming. What is what?

Out beyond ideas of wrong doing

and right doing there is a field.

I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass

the world is too full to talk about.

The book of Rumi, opening on that page. What is wrong, and what is right. Maybe, not world but we, dreamers are too full to talk about. Silence.

Moment of waking, exchanging look with a man on the street. Sadness and pain in his look. In one short moment, I’m that man. Can I help him?! Can somebody help me?!

Silence is music, too. Writing on one tombstone in Mirogoj cemetery in Zagreb. Tombstone with my surname. Memory of that, while looking at that man on the street. Could have been his tombstone, too. Daydreaming.

Anastasia’s soundtrack from Machevski’s “Before the Rain” on my headphones. Coming back home. Coming back to Macedonia with some bus, happy that is not full with people. Reading “Propuh, Papuče, and Punica” by Cody McClain Brown. Laughing.

Alexander coming back home. From some other trip. Where camera could kill the man.

Years ago, coming back home, and finding Alexander’s message in the postcard that arrived before me:

Lovers don't finally meet somewhere.

They're in each other all along.

Here and now. Writing this essay. Yesterday my friend Alexandra called me, asking would I like to write something about my understanding of culture. For Verspolis, European Review of Poetry, Books and Culture. Excitement.

Here and now. Writing. In the back Agnes Obel. Silence.

Down by the river by the boats

Where everybody goes to be alone

Where you won't see any rising sun

Down to the river we will run


Struga. My mother’s birthday. Waking with the smell of dry red peppers made with eggs.


Mersiha Ismajloska