As it has been noted already
”The Macedonians, despite
Their terrible poverty
Showed great good-heartedness”
And gave willingly even more than they could
So I and the Priest did not go on our pilgrimage
With empty hands.
I begged the Priest so much
To give a hoot, do a good deed
And take me with him to Christ’s grave
And then – may God be willing!
It was hard to win him over
But, finally, we found ourselves
In the port of Salonica
Waiting for a vessel to Jerusalem
And it is not in vain, they say, Salonica towers.
What houses, beautiful palaces
They swept me of my feet!
All higher than the Prilep tobacco factory!
Miraculous gardens with rose-beds
And other most beautiful blooms
As if an angel sits at my shoulder
An I gaze and gaze to see
How far the White sea stretches!
Somewhat out of fear before we boarded the ship
And somewhat out of sorrow that thus had ended
The Slavonic siege of Salonica
And many of our people left their bones here
In the tavern near Beaz Kule
We drank several glasses of strong Salonica brandy
Munched the olives together with their pits.
Two or three tables away
Grigor Prlichev seemed to be sitting –
The man looked so much like our Homer
Although his hair and moustache were grey.
He had ordered ice-cream,
Big scoops, like Ohrid apples
And was doing his crossword
And when he glared at the sea
It looked as if he measured the grief of all Macedonians
It looked as if he listened to their pulse
It looked as if he searched for his ancestral roots
And recognised the scent of the new time.
He felt I rejoiced in him
And waved with a white cloth
When, afterwards, I looked at him from the ship.
Prlichev’s clothe is until the present day,
My most beautiful flag,
The flag of all my fancies and longings.
Before we boarded the ship
The Priest showed me
Another, much bigger, tavern
With billiards, dominoes, checkers on the tables
Only our people came to this pub, he said –
Anarchists, socialists, autonomists,
Federalists and other -ists, -ists, -ists
But it was getting dark
An I could not recognize anyone.
Our ship left port when it was pitch dark
In the port of Salonica
We were still on our feet
When he heard loud shooting
Coming from the tavern of our fellow country-men
It was the second assassination attempt on Yane Sandanski.
This was my first time on a vessel
And danger looks larger through the eyes of fear
Out of dread and unrest
To tell you the truth –
I spent the first night on the loo
And through a small round porthole
I counted the stars
And then I had a vision:
A lonely naked maiden dancing on the waves.
I was quiet as a mouse
That night on the ship.
Well, many days and nights had passed
When suddenly demons from the East and North
And strong winds took their turns
The youngest Cyclops grew angry,
I think it was called Argos –
They had spoiled its nap after the feast
And it raged, rampaged and stormed,
Hurled great stones and rocks into the sea.
Our ship stumbled
Like a nutshell on the waves.
The demons swished, may God swish them
The Cyclops went wild, may wild boars eat it!
The vision disappeared in a second
The naked girl dancing on the waves vanished
The shop keeled over and went down
Holy Moses, my dear mother.
Should I, your Silyian, fondled and spoiled
Be a bite for the fish?!
The girl who had danced upon the waves
Was in fact a plank
That I gripped tightly
And almost broke with my arms
I and she – grandchildren of Tantalus.
When I woke up,
I was already on shore
With the plank in my grasp.
If I Had had a radio, Hey you, Macedonian,
I could have heard that in some other sea
That great ship the Titanic had sunk
And in the Balkans there were wars, wars
And Macedonia’s division had begun.
This is how I stepped into the era of The Stork
With a plank and no radio news.