THE GREAT GATES OF WAR

by Tomica Bajsić


THE GREAT GATES OF WAR

for Davor Sefić

 

We drove 2,000 miles all across Europe

in our Golden Boy, Robi’s old Kadett:

the three of us,

smoking, listening to the radio,

long arrows of light

stretched along the wet road. Miles pile behind us

and night emerges; we stop only

to change at the wheel, continuing on, breathlessly.

Drinking, smoking, listening to the radio

that’s how we meet the daylight. The sky expands

and you’re saying,

40 years, that’s just about right. I don’t need more,

that’s long enough for one life.

Shortly afterward a tank grenade near Dubrovnik

will take you up into the atmosphere; you lived 23 years

Seven years ago

we had driven relentlessly all across Europe

up to that Chetnik roadblock at Plitvice.

It was Easter

and we passed through the Great Gates of War.

In your only photograph taken in uniform

you have a curious look, as if you can see what’s coming ahead.

On the wall above you a flash of white light

coming from the Spirit—its everpresence.

 

Translator’s note: Historically, Chetniks were Serbian self-styled monarchist elite military units established before WWI. In WWII they sided with the fascists and fought against Tito’s partisans. In the early 1990s, they resurfaced as right-wing nationalist paramilitaries responsible for many atrocities in Croatia and Bosnia and Hercegovina.

Translated from Croatian by Damir Šodan

VELIKA VRATA RATA

Davoru Sefiću

 

 

 

Vozili smo 2000 km preko Europe

u “Golden boyu”, starom Robijevom Kadettu.

Nas trojica,

pili smo, pušili i slušali radio,

duge strijele sunca na

mokroj cesti. Kilometri padaju

 

i noć se diže, stajemo samo

da se zamijenimo za volanom i idemo dalje.

Pijemo, pušimo i slušamo radio i

tako postaje dan. Nebo se širi.

Ti govoriš:

“40 godina, bar toliko, to je dovoljno dug život,

i ne treba mi više.”

 

A nedugo zatim tenkovska granata kod Dubrovnika

odnijet će te u atmosferu, živio si 23 godine,

ne 40.

 

Prije sedam godina,

vozili smo bez stajanja 2000 km preko Europe

sve do četničke barikade na Plitvicama.

Bio je Uskrs i

 

ušli smo ravno na velika vrata rata.

 

Na jedinoj tvojoj fotografiji u uniformi

imaš začuđen pogled, kao da vidiš ispred.

Na zidu iza tebe je nekakva bijela svjetlost, koja

dolazi od Duha, i sveprisutna je.