ARMFUL OF TWIGS, DREAM
Armful of dry twigs
I carry to the fire
through busy streets.
I can't see the stake,
don't know who is being
burnt alive or why.
Flames rise in the glow
beyond the ecstatic crowd
singing, shouting and firing guns.
(This dream, I am not
bound to forget.)
Don't sway like that, O my curtain.
Hard freeze, and the stepmother
kicks me out of the house.
In the barn the cows were steaming.
It was warm to be with them.
I didn't curse anyone,
nor did I think about my fate.
When I started the village path,
I had my father's old shirt on
which I wore like a dress.
On the first big crossroad,
(all crossroads are big)
a man asked me where I was going
and I told him I am going far
beyond the hills
to seek Father and Holy Mother.
I wandered everywhere
like a God's fool.
whatever I acquired — I lost.
What I gave to life — died.
My stepmother died too.
Now I've no one left in the world.
Only her countless sons
and her wicked daughters.
Hey, little marsh, weed, cattail and water lily.
flies flies the gray crow.
among swamp plants, a tufted diver.
a small white heron hunts a frog, swallows the frog.
high in the tree the bird nests sway gently.
here, there, there's no one in the rotted boat.
no one rides the school of fish.
only gentlemen cormorants, only hungry white spoonbill.
let's praise everything we see.
let's set out for the open waters.
let's turn and lie on our backs forever.
translated from the Serbian by Charles Simic
from Dark Things (BOA Editions)