The late January day is slowly awakening
as from the pangs of a heavy hangover
but from behind the withdrawn curtains it still
shone all puffy with reddened cheeks:
even under stacks of fog it was all decorated
with icy lace on the branches of the trees.
Once I could separate my hand from the outside knob
I saw – outside it was still sipping dandruff of rime.
‘This is the last parade of the terrorist Winter!’
said the neighbour and went to the market to sell his line.
I sneaked between the brides and grooms under the hoarfrost
in the middle of this workday turned into a holiday
and in the procession of retired ponderous pines
that have left their overcoats and furry frocks
on the benches welded with nails of ice so that
they can jog in their pyjamas like the lunatics of Bardovci.1F
The feet crackle and crush the granular snow by the black Vardar,
whitened only by the detritus of plastic that it carries,
or as a middleman that barters it from one sleeve to another
(not only money but goods as well make the world go around)
from one deposit on this shore to another landfill on the other
that keeps rising with great interest and profits downstream –
that’s how the capital the Greeks invested is paid back in fertile mud
with the barrage from return and sailing fleet of packaging.
The homeless that have survived the night’s terror
light fires and bake carcasses under the bridges,
they drink their piss-tea and they slurp their tripe stew.
Baron! Baron! yells a gentleman wearing a fur cap,
one cannot tell whether he’s calling his dog or a beggar.
How could h remember to put something on his head,
I say to myself, while the cold scalps me bareheaded
for, I thought – the day must be crowned with the sun-yolk.
There it is finally, peeping through clouds and fog, the orb-knob,
so I could return like a frostbitten crusader from a pilgrimage
in which so many pagan marriages were made and blessed:
single bleeding foes turned in luminous orthodox couples.
Not just weddings, but everyone started to drool
in tumultuous sprees, the ornaments of rime
had their wild breath melted into pools of slime, not knowing
amid that racket who is saying: oh, man! or who: amen!
1. A mental hospital next to the eponymous village, where Lepenec flows into Vardar, near my neighbourhood Vlae in Skopje. (Author’s note)