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Snow in your Shoes


One does not build a house collecting cutlery

even though a few extra spoons

come in handy sometimes.


One does not build a house from new curtains

even though different views

from time to time

should be shielded by new cloth.


For a home to be a home,

among other things you need a lot of things

you would gladly renounce

in advance.


Listen to what Eskimos say:

to build a good igloo,

for years you have to carry

snow in your shoes.


And a safety pin, forgotten

in your coat collar,

near the jugular.


Translated by: Novica Petrovic  





Evening after evening my mother reads

The Way of the Samurai:

every new morning is like the whiteness of the body

showing through

the slightly open black kimono -

the tip of blade should be stuck in

as deep as possible.


One should struggle with the day

like with skin always ready

for seppuku.


By the head of the bed, instead of the Bible

Mishima’s book should be held

with its cover resembling a box made of tiny linden boards.


Even the saddest truth

should be carefully plucked from it, as if it were

a cherry flower

that two little demons -

the demon of remembrance and the demon of oblivion -

ritually bow to at the same time.


Evening after evening my mother studies

the secrets of samurai: before she goes to sleep

she marks her spot in the book with the needle

she slides from the wakened volcano

of her unbraided bun.


Only she knows: there is

another, as yet unwritten law claiming

that years are a curtain made of paper birds

one should squeeze through

keeping silent,

not making a single one swing

by wrong words or excessive breathing.


One should permit only

the gentle sound of little wings

behind one’s back.


Translated by: David Albahari and Richard Harrison




While white-washing the apartment

I decided on a book purge,

but threw away only the catalog of editions from ’85

and a few books of poetry.


From then on the shelves swayed and creaked

like some distant tubercular lungs

and persistently stuck in Dostoevsky’s

flat like meta-punishment.


And every night from your name, Osip M*

the snare travels to my neck

and the head descends to her alone:

you have all my telephone numbers.


Translated by: Brian Henry

*Osip M. (Osip Mandelstam, Russian poet)


Spring Trade


Some little bird


spoke two, three words

and shat on the terrace, ashine with sun.


So this little bird,

still a matchbox

that outgrew its wingspan.

His eyes only half phosphoric grains.


From the small shit

grew a four-leaf



our luck speaks in an animal language

and in the language of good digestion,

outdoing its causes

and not choosing the spot where I would land.


It must keep quiet, truly:

if he mentions

the sun above us,

it changes

into golden gallows.


Translated by: Brian Henry


On the Nature of Things


The snail is the body

of God's doubt

in his own power.


Because God did create the word first

and then, after a few days

the Earth.


And then, leant his ear beside the peat cortex

to hear – if anything moves underneath

if it reveals any sound from itself to

this nested life.


And then, because he has doubted himself

his ear got petrified

in the fragile spiral of the snail's house

forever tightened 

to a sad membrane of the Earth

and the silence of the movement

as a pledge of disbelief

in the first initiated sound.


And then, accepting misunderstandings

became the urge together

with accepting of faith:

His eye is all mighty

but each here spoken word

is traveling to long till it reaches

abyss of ear cavity

and there, between hammer, anvil and stirrup

only local silences are at war.


Everlasting dilemma: can he hear

the voices of mortals...

The truth remains somewhere

on the half way of the crucified sky:


Between his healed wound –

dark canal on which walls only

centuries are glued like wax and dust

and all snails on the Earth

which are only multiplied model

of his long ago cut ear.



His first

and our last doubt.


Ana Ristović