Called Back

by Lidija Dimkovska

You called me back and I had to return.
On the Peter Pan bus from New York to Amherst
with 50 cents change clutched in my left hand
and on leaving I fed it not into a coffee machine
but into your past to open the present.
And the present is a wolf with its belly ripped open
and filled with stones by the survivors,
not a drop of blood remains from it,
the victims have sucked it up while gasping inside,
hence their bitterness
in throwing it so cruelly into the river.
And the past hurts it, but it has nowhere to hide,
while it was different for you:
when you hid in your room
you hid in your time.
In the house with loaves of bread that never went hard
the salt – cellar was the dial of death,
roots of black flowers pushed through the smallest holes,
and through the larger ones — the whiteness of a dress as sharp as winter,
and through the biggest you yourself poured out:
“Is my Verse alive ? ”
Then death became an honoured guest in the home,
sprawled for years in white stockings in the midst of the black bed – linen
lying in wait for you should you cross the threshold of your father’s house.
Your verse is alive, but I don’t know if I am alive
as I stand once more in your garden in Amherst
reading the ad about exorcising zombies from poetesses’ bodies
and wondering whether consciousness freezes at minus seven degrees
and how to sterilize the sterilizer
so that life will be life, and verse — verse.
Our meeting is like a rooster killed in honour of a guest from afar
writhing in the sun – baked dish of Amherst,
every bride’s dress remembers your virginal one,
every bride’s bouquet thrown over the shoulder wants to fall into your hands.
And what happened ?  A room — the first bin ‘Paper Only’
uncertain for years as to whether it would end up in the dump
or with a secret reader in a rented room.
I did all I could for you.  I have a husband, a daughter,
four eyes, two countries and two skies.
I came twice, but your house was locked.
So then I ran to the graveyard where at night you sit with Dara and Jim
on the fence, as if swinging above the earth.
There, to the right of the path strewn with blades of green grass
the Dickinson graves are lined up
like chemists’ bottles,
but only yours bears the label
‘Called Back.’

Translated from the Macedonian by Ljubica Arsovska and Peggy Reid.