from the new issue of Verse (Volume 26, Numbers 1-3)
My memory is a soldier’s tin of bully beef
with no best-before date. I return to places
I have trodden with only one tongue in my mouth
and beat egg yolks for the natives to give them a good voice.
In a snow of the whites Jesus lies crucified as if in jest.
It takes two tongues for a French kiss,
now that I have several I’m no longer a woman but a dragon.
Like St George, I never learned
to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, my nose being blocked for years
I myself only breathe through others’ nostrils, the EU’s paying.
Aha! There’s something fishy about you, something’s fishy here,
the little fallen angels
collecting old paper and plastic cry after me,
I love them best when they take their cots
out into the corridor to air the DNA
then A. and I sprawl out on them, a side each,
and in a carefully worked-out act of love
all our porcelain teeth chip off,
our gums turn into wide-open eyes, before which
our tongues in the darkness trip each other up,
growling, whimpering and moaning, and we
feel neither fear nor sorrow.
My memory is the black box from a crashed war-plane
with no best-before date. I return to places I trod
with only one blood under my skin,
I cross off fertile days for the natives on the calendars
with their name days and family feasts,
tame animals crave for the wild, the wild for the tame.
Like a Jewish couple during fasts and monthly periods,
so God and I have been sleeping in separate beds for years.
Translated from Macedonian by Ljubica Arsovska and Peggy Reid