but in the morning they soberly sweep their naked rooms

Language: Croatian
Poet: Olja Savičević Ivančević
Translator: Andrea Jurjević

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but in the morning they soberly sweep their naked rooms

Two poems by Olja Savičević Ivančević translated by Andrea Jurjević

Olja Savičević Ivančević is a Croatian author whose work has been translated into German, Czech, Italian, Spanish, French, Macedonian, Polish, Ukranian, Lithuanian, and Zulu, among other languages. Her collections of poetry include: It Will Be Tremendous When I Grow Up (1988); Eternal Kids (1993); Female Manuscripts (1999); Puzzlerojc (2005); House Rules (2007), winner of the prestigious Croatian award Kiklop; and Mamasafari (2012). Her collection of short stories, To Make A Dog Laugh (2006), and her novel, Adios, Cowboy (2010), won several Croatian literary awards. Adios, Cowboy came out in English with McSweeney’s in February 2016.
Andrea Jurjević is a native of Croatia. Her poetry collection Small Crimes won the 2015 Philip Levine Prize (Anhinga Press, 2017). Her poems appear widely in journals such as Epoch,TriQuarterly, Raleigh Review, The Missouri Review, and her translations of contemporary Croatian poetry in Gulf Coast, Lunch Ticket, and Drunken Boat. She is the recipient of the 2013 Robinson Jeffers Tor Prize, the 2015 RHINO Translation Prize, and a Tennessee Williams Scholarship in Poetry from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. She teaches English at Georgia State University, where she graduated from the MFA Program in Creative Writing.

Šegrt

toliko svile se odmotava

pod mojom kožom neprekidno

da su me staratelji morali skloniti

u hram

među krčmarsko svećenstvo

tu ćeš, rekli su, mala

učiti pisati nogom po vjetru

i vjetrom po gradskim morima

izučit ćeš vještinu

bacanja letećih olovčica

(da zatvorenih očiju razvežeš pupak

i rasiječeš bradavicu)

vidjela sam kako pjevaju i ljube ludi učitelji

kako preskaču lipu i vodotoranj

ponekad pripiti trče uz zidove kuća

ali ujutro trijezno pometu svoje gole sobe

nježno obuku svoje gole žene i mladiće

povežu ono što je ostalo od kose

u perčin rečenica

i lebde iznad svetih tastatura

prvu sam lekciju svladala iz domaćinstva

složila sam svu silu u bale

kao u malom dućanu metraže

trebalo mi je trideset godina

još toliko će mi trebati

da razvrstam dugmad riječi

i sve te aplikacije

bojim se, u međuvremenu,

ostarit će učitelji, popušit će svoje lule vjere

a s njima i hrabrost i mudrost

brine me što će se dogoditi s njihovim kostima po čitankama

tu nitko živ više neće moći

sastaviti pjesnika

An Apprentice

so much silk unrolls

continually under my skin

that the guardians had to move me

to the temple

among the clergy of the tavern

they said, here, little one,

you’ll learn how to write by throwing a leg over the wind

and with the wind over the city seas

you’ll learn the trade

of flinging flying pencils

(so with eyes closed you unknot the navel

and cut the nipple)

I saw how crazy teachers sing and kiss

how they jump over the linden and the water tower

sometimes tipsy they run along the walls of houses

but in the morning they soberly sweep their naked rooms

gently dress their naked women and young men

and bind what’s left of their hair

into bundled sentences

hover over holy keyboards

I first mastered homemaking

I folded all the silk into bales

like in a little fabric shop

it took me thirty years

and I’ll need that many more

to sort the word buttons

and all of their use

meanwhile, I’m afraid,

the teachers will get old, finish smoking their pipes of hope

and with them both courage and wisdom

I worry about what will happen to their bones in the books

not a living soul will be able

to assemble a poet

Humbert

Prošlo je i više vremena od onog koje je trebalo

Da može sjesti do tebe i potapšati ti glavu

S obje ruke sretna, kao bongo. Moj oče, stari ljubavniče.

Počinje period u kojem se u mislima spušta u luku

Uz bedem, ali zavoj je oštar, trga se koža sa lijeve plećke i puca karoserija

Ti svakih nekoliko ljeta tražiš ime za svoj brod

Nazoveš je i pitaš za mišljenje, govorite o roditeljima i djeci, o brakovima

Koji su uglavnom sretni i zdravlju, poslovima

Kaže ti: bio si u pravu, zaboravila sam te kao i svoje grudi prije četrnaeste

Na tebe pomisli kad vidi konduktera: bijele hlače, nikad suviše čiste

I češće se vezano uz tebe sjeti tvog malog psa koji je po dugom hodniku

Kuće kotrljao kosti. I vodoskoka.

Ali otkad se dogodila nesreća iz njenih su snova kao miševi pobjegli svi—osim tebe.

I eto te gdje se pokrećeš po čudnom nalogu, njenom

Pušiš i povlačiš klompe na krivim dlakavim nogama

A ona ide pored tebe u košuljici bez rukava

Prekratkoj da joj se ne bi vidjela stražnjica pička bedra

Uzalud je navlači i ti iako ravnodušan uviđaš njen problem

To su samo njeni snovi, ali i na javi bi joj rekao:

Ne brini, normalno hodaj, pa ja idem ispred tebe,

Uostalom, moja stara kćeri, moja mlada ljubavnice,

Sami smo na cesti, uostalom.

Humbert

More time passed than was necessary

For her to sit beside you and happily with both hands

tap your head like a bongo. My father, old lover.

That time starts when she imagines going down to the harbor

By the rampart, but the turn is sharp, the skin from her left shoulder tears and the chassis breaks

Every few summers you seek names for your boat

You call and ask her opinion, talk about parents and kids, about marriages

That are mostly happy and about health, work

She says: you were right, I forgot you like I forgot my fourteen-year-old breasts

She thinks of you when she sees a bus conductor: white pants, never too clean

And more often she remembers your little dog that rolled bones down the long hallway

Of the house. And the waterfalls.

But since the accident everyone ran out of her dreams like mice—except you.

And look, you now march under a strange order, hers

You smoke and drag clogs on crooked hairy legs

And she walks beside you in a sleeveless shirt

Too short to cover her ass snatch thighs

Hopelessly she pulls it down, and you, even though indifferent, see her problem

These are just her dreams, but even in reality you’d say to her:

Don’t worry, walk naturally, I’m next to you,

After all, my old daughter, my young lover,

We’re alone on the road, after all.