Marija Bergam Pellicani
Translated by Marija Bergam Pellicani
WOMEN, PERSPECTIVES / ЖЕНЕ, ПЕРСПЕКТИВЕ
Your first reaction is to refuse,
as dictated by the simple grammar
of children and ghosts,
later, during the negotiations,
you’d cross your legs, weigh up with your shoe
who is to pay how many debts and dues, and to whom,
perhaps inside you the deafened multitudes
would whisper conspiratorially,
your anger, meanwhile, you would explain
by a good upbringing or bad digestion.
However, it is certain you will accept,
because it’s impossible that you do not owe,
no sooner had you been seen
than your skin unrolled like a pulled-out receipt roll,
the cash register ka-chings every time you touch
with your tongue the upper palate for N,
the palms of the passers-by itch
like magic lamps.
There's a third thing:
you avert your gaze, draw in your shoulders,
you press your hands against the trunk,
a belfry with the bell unstuck,
apparently, I didn’t hear,
apparently, I have no idea,
apparently, the connection is bad,
until the question wanders off like a bullet
and hits another woman
still unpractised in playing dead.
ORIENTATION / OРИЈЕНТАЦИЈА
Probably there is still that residential block where you went
with the boyfriend of old on one of those tense walks
during which he would dissect your memory of others,
or maybe it was just a simple, lovers’ walk,
when with your hand you lightly brush the playground jungle gym
poking the ground with your sneaker, while you wait for him to tie his shoe
or buy some water or something to that effect.
Though, at the time, people didn't really buy water and they would somehow
survive the average walk without a plastic bottle
and come back home yearning for something.
You, perhaps, yearning for solitude. For unembargoed flashbacks.
None of your people live there, no reason to unlock the picture,
there is nothing in it but the surface, the apparition
of something that didn't really have to happen
in order for you to stand where you are.
And yet, compared to other, repeated, successive pathways,
the same conversational and other contents,
you remember this unrepeated one: between the yellow-grey buildings,
along the overpass across the tracks,
you remember it, so to speak, because you cannot entirely rely on the fact
that your mental picture hasn’t been glued over the authentic one,
like a futile spice of mystery, novelty, initiative.
Google street viewdoesn't show anything similar, and why should it?
This too should suffice.
That didn't stop you before from writing the story
of another former boyfriend, about how the local kids
broke his nose so he bled in the bus on the long way home,
precisely into that space, slippery, blurred on the margins,
selectively obscure, but evidently quite exciting.
In a place like that Branko would have made a flower sprout. 
 The reference is to the celebrated neo-symbolist Serbian poet Branko Miljković (1934-1961). In his poems the flowerrecurringly figures as a symbol of creativity and hope.
WINTER EQUIPMENT / ЗИМСКА ОПРЕМА
I remember how heedlessly
she careered from the main road into the unswept side street,
the car swerved,
and thump-thump brushed
against the cars tightly parked along the curb on both sides,
with no visible damage.
To me, in the back seat, it felt as if
I had launched without the skis on
an unexpectedly exciting downhill run,
in a flash, a story by Chekhov came back to me
about the young man who declares his love to the frightened girl
as the sled swiftly slides down the hill.
I'm not an adrenaline junkie
and I don't like the downhill run for its own sake,
but that erotic moment of Chekhov’s,
it seems to me, would give everything a purpose,
even to the skidding
off the expected route, departure, arrival, the exact time,
from well-guided conversation,
tailored clothes and fixed makeup.
Thump-thump of the soft pinball machine
comes back to me sometimes as I’m falling asleep
like something quite close to a crash,
the holding of your breath,
a guttural scream stifled a second too late.
Maybe it's finally time to take a risk
in a series of pretences that nothing happened and
delusions that something happened;
grease the sled with tallow, protect your ears from the wind,
slide towards the first big bush
into a completely different
yet inevitable embrace.
Without motive, out of pure evil, just once, spoil the game.
THE BAIT / МАМАЦ
There is no word for that state of turned up interior.
Perhaps, best of all:
like a fish still on the hook,
stretched over your filthy, child’s palm,
only its tail sticking out a little.
The scales easily rub off against your fingernails as it tingles with insanity,
first time caught.
And you, madly focused on that eye
that dissolves you through the unseemly lenses of air, and that mouth,
the wound you won't instantly and scrupulously deliver from the sting.
Now that twitch,
that impetuous attempt to peel off from your palm,
although they are so cruelly compatible,
two, three times, hopeless,
but with the moral imperative you’re reading into it,
that's what I'm talking about.
The flickering, the twitch from the diaphragm, like a forgotten hook,
out of nowhere, then the questioning,
anywhere: at the bus station,
above the sink, in front of the sun-blinded window.
It's been a long time since you stopped feeling the hook
and you slide the worm onto it indifferently,
grown up women don’t do that.
Something else, cold and dumb, glistens white on their palm,
before they put it back, always jauntily, under the glittery surface.
But the fingertips tingle for a while,
as if alive.
THE IMPRINT / ОТИСАК
Too much poetry for this year and it's only June,
and there’s going to be quite a bit of it
read anew, interpreted with a lot of straining
as with the hoe against a root, a hunk of rock, thick black soil,
at the end of the day, everything turns to a crime novel:
when I close my eyes, I see incoherent comments
of the library users on the margins,
they adhere to me, without remainder,
decalcomania caused by the harmless opening of a book,
in spite of the acrid smell of moisture and the resistance of coarse paper.
Arms and legs languidly extended, my head inclined,
as if I needed the whole body in order to understand,
and the need to scratch the nose, whisk away a fly,
rub the numb place, were pure insolence,
I suffer the torture of metaphors and images,
with the curse as solution, between my clenched teeth.
The moment before I lose
I stretch them all out between my hands like a paper people chain,
I begin to sway to an imaginary music.
We avoid each other for a while
like – after a fight –an elderly married couple,
who no longer solve anything with sex.
SOMEONE ELSE'S CINDARELLA / ТУЂА ПЕПЕЉУГА
For grandma Stana
It's decent weather,
totes and antediluvian leather bags are schlepping
their old ladies with bluish reflections in their curled hair,
behind whom I always slow down,
as I observe them walk, swinging their hands and
a thought flares up in my throat:
I'll suddenly walk around her, startle her a little,
and smile – like – it's me!
But it’s not her, of course.
She up and left
her workplace here on earth
off to collect the fat pay that
down here she never asked of anyone, for anything.
It is a thought that nevertheless allows
me to pick up my pace.
The way she hauled her brothers and sisters
from rock to mud,
and now, without complaining about the civilisation shock
or the begrudgingneighbours,
she fell off her perch,
grown thin with the thoughts devouring her insides
like in that adage
she fell back on when the need arose:
"what do you need a guy for – to chew on your bones?"
I peer sideways in the face under the hairdo,
someone else's Cinderella.
Still, why not say something:
I remember our last
you showed me the tree tops against the window
and the strange shapes inside them,
don't worry, they have stayed here between us,
I regularly chase away your ghosts,
OUR BODY / НАШЕ ТЕЛО
The demand for me keeps growing,
the crisis and scarcity andimpatience in the queue,
in response to the initially generous offer.
Tiny hands and feet and cheeks stun easily
and already I’m being duplicated,
insistently doubting the quality of the clone,
not to mention the original!
In a body made of mouthfuls
I think and think and think,
instead of creating.
Out of the bruises the spikes,
out of the scars the stings
to defend ourselves from everything I make up.
Clearly, I won't be whole again,
I have shattered myself in three
may you ever scatter the silly beating of my heart
whichever way you move.
BASIL / БОСИЉАК
I’m from Vrbovski, she says, as she expertly slips the bill
into an improvised freezer bag wallet,
shall I add some basil, she asks, I know the girl likes it,
and she says something else, which escapes me, as I furtively
stare at her big fists, on such a small body,
and I picture what she must have looked like in the school photos,
if she proudly thrust herself to the fore or if she felt relieved
when they placed her in the background,
if some caring hand carriedthese photos at all
through the gushing and pouring down of years like a waterfall,
so that she would first feel ashamed, then wave off indifferently,
and finally, fanatically peer
like into the one candle back then, once, while the wind was blowing,
for the wind must have been blowing if she lived in Banat then,
peer looking for survivors,
first of all, herself, the one who doesn't exactly match the view,
I say, what about a bunch of basil,
and I immediately tear off a leaf to crush between my fingers,
I don't know if the girl likes basil,
she only likes the aster you pack along with the basil,
I think to myself,
taking my fingers to my nose and breathing it in
like the perfume of a vanished lover,
longingly and maliciously,
when I was a girl, I used to hate basil,
now it is getting back at me through our lost time.