Ivan V. Lalić



Translated by the poet

For years I’ve been learning your features, where the days
Impress their tiny fires; for years I’ve been memorising
Their shimmering uniqueness, and the latticed lightness
Of your movements behind the net curtains
Of the afternoon; and so I no longer recognise you
Outside the memory which surrenders you to me,
And every day I find it harder to tame the current of time
Which does not flow through you, through the gentle metal
Of your blood;
if you change, I surely change too,
And with us that world built around an instant
Like fruit around a kernel, woven of unreal flesh
With the taste of lightning, the taste of dust, the taste of years,
The taste of snow melting on the flame of your skin.

For years I have known we are disappearing together:
You burnt through with the star of my memory, outside which
You steadily diminish, myself beautifully dispersed in you,
In every afternoon, in every room, in every day,
In everything which fills you slowly, like sand
Filling a riverbed;
and this, our moment,
Lasts longer than another’s death.

Notes on this poem

Please note that this translation is a subsequent translation by Francis R. Jones, included in A Rusty Needle (Anvil, 1996) and published by permission of Francis R. Jones and Anvil Press, rather than the original translation by the author.