Marija Dejanović - On the Way to the Shop

Translated by Vesna Marić

In a country where few speak your language
everyone speaks louder than you
everyone is more visible, more protected
hidden by numerousness
on the way to the tea shop you feel much too noticeable
The movements of your knees reflect your lack of friends

Your gait is stiff, too strict
and although everyone is extremely kind
they don’t dig into your flesh out of the goodness of their hearts
they talk amongst themselves not to bother you
they say good day and goodbye

Still, you feel like a pair of metal compasses
whose sharp shiny needle point stabs the concrete
metre after metre
As you walk from the flat to the shop, from the shop to the flat
you leave behind a vanishing circle of your presence, a language
of mutual incomprehension;

when you’re buying tea from the friendly shopkeeper
it is you, rather than the dried leaves, that is on display

Returning from the shop you begin to resemble them
Aimless, you are an eye that envelops
and does not reveal

Out of love for yourself you don’t question how you feel
just like out of your love for animals
you eat herbs planted by another’s children
who will never be able to afford the food they grow
you buy cashew nuts in a plastic bag
whose production melts women’s identity off their fingertips

But those are some other women, somewhere far away
women whose sisters live in towns that topple onto their heads
legal slave women

You have chosen your own hard times
Bought your good times with them

The streets are full of small shops
Each shop has many woven baskets
each woven basket holds a small personal defeat
You walk blonde, blue-eyed
because your skin is sun tanned
it is lovely to see you in every street

If they speak to you in that language
you shrug under your hat

They could say that they love you or curse you
and you wouldn’t know the difference

this ignorance is your small personal victory