Poetry,  The quarantine stories

Days such as these: reminiscence of a pandemic

I have originally published this poem in Macedonian on my facebook profile and since I got quite some positive feedback about it – partially in comments and shares and partially in private messages – I thought that I can try to translate it in English and post it here. This is a new experience for me: I usually write my poetry either in English or in Macedonian and keep it as such, fearing that much of the tone could be lost in the translation. Nevertheless, I have now decided to conduct this experiment and see how the English translation would sound. The original is, after all, some hybrid of prose and poetry, so there is no danger of loosing any rhymes or verses’ rhythm.

After reading the poem: let’s play a game

I would love to hear some feedback from your side on the translation. It does not really matter if you understand the Macedonian version present at the end; I am more interested in how you liked the English version.

Also, if you are up for a bit of fun, I would like to ask you to play a game with me: along with your comment, write a word (either in Macedonian or in English) that preoccupies your thoughts right now. Any word is fine, whatever pops up in your mind first. I will then try to reply with a short story or a small poem which will contain this word. I remembered that I had such a task in one creative writing class I took long time ago and it was so much fun that I thought I can now give it another shot. If you are not interested in playing, I at least hope that you will enjoy the poetry. 🙂

Poem: days such as these

And so, there are also such days,
when you indeed manage to leave work early,
and then you rush excitedly home to greet him with a few pieces of cake.
Through this one-year break of my life
I have found a way to find joy
in the five extra minutes of fresh air,
in the unconventional piece of cake,
in the fresh blossoms in my kitchen,
in every new reader of my scattered thoughts,
in those few microscopic daily fragments when all of the noise quietens for a moment
and I manage to finally hear my breathing.
I repeat to myself:
inhale,
exhale,

live.

You are still living.

I find it so ironic to see the world stopping for a while,
and yet, my time speeds up, the noise in my mind intensifies.
I am getting lost among these four walls,
not the walls of my home, but of my mind,
which constantly repeats:
mask,
disinfectant,

distance.

I am slowly distancing from myself.
From who I am, what I do, why I exist.
The fear to not expose myself and my loved ones to a risk is slowly metastasizing into my only master.

It does not allow me to smile, to dance, to travel, to experience art with all of my senses, to attend concerts, to distract my mind from everything that bothers me.

Here I am for a whole year, prisoner of the fear,
dedicated to play my part in this game,
to accept the fact that I have a societal responsibility;
and yet, somehow through this whole process, step by step,

I have slowly allowed myself to be lonely, yet not alone, with my own worries and my own work.

Responsible towards the society, irresponsible towards myself.

Towards us.

I do not see what more I could tell him,
didn’t we say it all?
This is how I can summarize everything that we tell and retell one another daily,
imprisoned constantly into one endless deja vu:
yes, home office is truly exhausting.
Yes, these zoom meetings worsen my headaches.
Yes, my eyes do hurt.
Yes, my back does hurt.
How about we go for a bike ride?
Yes, my soul hurts so much.
Shall we have a piece of cake?

Let’s sweeten our life.

And so, there are also such days,
when you do manage to leave work early,
and then you rush home to sweeten his solitude with a few pieces of cake.
It is time to heal the soul.
The words might have abandoned us, you tell him, and how could they not
when the world stole all of our inspiration for them.
Yet, we stay.
Here.
Then.
Now.
And tomorrow.

Together.

There are also such days when I walk alone along these streets near our home and
I wish we could have walked together,
but even alone, I find joy in the sun that seduces us all;
I repeat to myself:
inhale,
exhale,
live.
I whisper this mantra to the point of infinity,

as I see no reason to rush myself precisely now.

I take my time and
I see the bare tree branches and I hope that this spring will manage to surprise me with something,
even though I do know what comes next.
I have been seeing for twenty eight years now how the branches get dressed in mesmerizing flowers when the sun continuously kisses them and
how they are blooming as if they are a woman’s naked body which is immensely loved;
and yet, beyond all reason and all natural laws,
I do hope that this spring will surprise me, surprise us,
that it will manage to plant blooming seeds into our frozen souls,
that it will nurture us with sun in the darkness,
tranquility in our worries,
consolation in our pain,
joy in our melancholy,
and maybe even, if we are truly blessed,
the start of the end for this life’s pause.

Македонска, оригинална верзија на „Денови ко овие„.

А ете има и такви денови,
кога успеваш порано да излезеш од работа,
па иташ дома за да го поздравиш со неколку парчиња торта.
Низ оваа едногодишна пауза на мојот живот
научив да се радувам
на петте екстра минути свеж воздух,
на несекојдневното парче торта,
на свежите цветови во мојата кујна,
на секој нов читател на моите мисли,
на тие некои микроскопски делчиња во денот кога сета бука за момент се стишува
и успевам да си го чујам дишењето и да си повторувам:
вдиши
издиши

живеј.

Сѐ уште живееш.

Колку е иронично што сиот свет некако застана,
а времето ми забрза, галамата во умов ми се појача.
Се губам низ четири ѕида –
не тие ѕидови на домот, ами на умот,
којшто постојано ми повторува,
маска,
сретство за дезинфекција,

дистанца.

Се одалечувам полека самата од себе.
Од она која сум, што правам, за што постојам.
Стравот да не се изложам на ризик и да не ги изложам на ризик моите најсакани полека метастазира во мој единствен господар.

Не ми дава да се насмевнам, да танцувам, да патувам, да искусувам уметност со сите сетила, да одам на концерти, да го оттргнувам умот од сѐ што ме мачи.

Еве ме цела година, заробеник на стравот,
посветена да го изиграм мојот дел во оваа игра,
да го прифатам фактот дека имам општествена одговорност,
а некако низ сиот овој процес, чекор по чекор,

полека дозволив да биднам осамена, иако не сама, со своите грижи и својата работа.

Одговорна кон општеството, неодговорна кон себе.

Кон нас.

Не гледам веќе што да му кажам,
зарем веќе не си кажавме сѐ?
Еве како може да го сумираме сето она што везден го кажуваме и прекажуваме,
заробени постојано во едно бескрајно дежа ву:
да, работата од дома е навистина напорна.
Да, состаноциве на зум ми ги појачуваат главоболките.
Да, очиве ме болат.
Да, грбот ме боли.
Ајде да возиме точак.
Да, душава ме боли.
Ајде да прикаснеме торта.

Дај да си го заблажиме животот.

А ете, има и такви денови,
кога успеваш порано да излезеш од работа,
па иташ дома за да му ја заблажиш самотијата со неколку парчиња торта.
Време е за лечење на душата.
Можеби зборовите нѐ напуштија, му велиш – а и како не би кога светот ни ја украде сета инспирација за нив –
но ние останавме.
Тука.
Тогаш. Сега. И утре.

Заедно.

Има и такви денови кога сама чекорам по овие улици близу нашиот дом и посакувам да чекориме заедно,
но сепак се радувам на сонцето кое сите нас нѐ заведува;
си повторувам
вдиши,
издиши,
живеј.
Си мантрам до недоглед,

зошто би се брзала баш сега?

Ги гледам сѐ уште голите гранки на дрвјата
и се надевам дека оваа пролет со нешто ќе ме изненади,
иако веќе знам што следи,
та веќе 28 пати досега сум видела како гранките се обуваат во заносни цветови кога сонцето континуриано ги бакнува,
цветаат и тие ко голо женско тело што неизмерно е сакано;
а ете, и покрај сиот разум и сите природни закони,
се надевам дека оваа пролет со нешто ќе ме, ќе нѐ, изненади,
ќе ни ја процвета заледената душа,
ќе ни дари
сонце во темнината,
спокој во грижите,
утеха во болката,
среќа во меланхолијата,
па можеби дури,
ако сме навистина благословени,
и почеток на крајот на оваа животна пауза.

13 Comments

  • Nadica

    Angliskiot prevod e odlicen 🙂 Prvpat koga ja procitav makedonskata verzija, si pomisliv- bravo Ivona, kako da si mi gi procitala mislite i si uspeala da go opises seto ona sto i jas go cuvstvuvam vekje cela godina, a mozebi ne umeam da go iskazam so zborovi. Sega citajki ja angliskata verzija, uste povekje mi se intenzivirase taa pomisla.
    Vo vrska so igrata, prv zbor sto mi padna na pamet koga go procitav prevodot bese: loneliness.
    So netrpenie cekam uste mnogu tvoi postovi 🙂

    • Ivona Kafedjiska

      Ти благодарам Надица, поддршката навистина ми значи и секоја интеракција или коментар на блогот ми е прекрасен потсетник дека има таму негде, во оваа онлајн сфера, луѓе кои сакаат да читнуваат чат-пат што ми прелетува низ умов. Тоа што ти си една од тие личности неизмерно ме радува и охрабрува да продолжам да творам. А сега, твојата кратка прикаска. 🙂

      I have been preparing for this day for my whole life. Today is the day when I will enter in a room full of strangers and try to shovel down all of my doubts, all of my worries, all of my fears of rejection. Today is the day when I will twist my trembling lips in a perfectly-deceiving smile and whisper that this is where I have spontaneously happened to end up on a casual Friday night. “What a coincidence to see you here too” – I say, as I glance at your deep, kind, brown eyes and try to look cool with the cocktail glass in my freezing hands. I omit the part that this precise coincidence happens to be a perfectly-calculated probability of one that tonight is the night when I finally meet you. My long-lost brother. I do not know how to tell you who I am, or how I found you; but, as I take a deep breath and look at you, I get hopeful for the first time in my life that my loneliness will transform into yet another word in the English dictonary that I will no longer use.

    • Ivona Kafedjiska

      Chaos. This is what came first according to the Greek mythological cosmology. Then followed Gaea and Eros – Earth and Desire.

      Centuries later, we were told that it all started with a bang. The Big Bang told us how the Universe expanded from its inception point of high density and temperature until it cooled down to a miracle we still try to wrap our mind around.

      What we now know for certain is this: Gaea, our Earth, is not the center of the Universe. Instead, it is an insignificant blue-green point in a never-ending darkness brightened by occasional cosmological firework sparks that manages to float and revolve and find its place in this cosmic soup merely by obeying certain physical laws.

      Yet, Eros – our desire to believe that we are more than just a minuscule, insignificant, unmemorable cosmic dust that will be erased and forgotten by time – remains. We started from cave art and look at us now: magnanimous monuments and bestselling books all in a hope to leave our mark, to fight death, to not be forgotten. Obsessing over and desiring status symbols, power and careers, hoping they will ever matter.

      Hoping we will ever matter. Hoping the Universe will take notion of our existence.

      I wonder: is this how we evolve? The Universe expanding and our souls shrinking. Tell me now, how much longer can we keep doing this parade and cause fury among the Gods on top of the mountain? Tell me now, what comes at the end, when we will no longer desire anything at all: a chaos or a bang?

  • Lea

    Thanks for making my evening! I loved them both, though I can tell it was written in Macedonian originally. It might be the few peculiar words that got lost in the translation.

    I’m in for the game, my word is GROWTH.

    • Ivona Kafedjiska

      Thank you Lea so much – both for being a loyal reader and supporter and for commenting and taking part in the game. Here is my story/poetry for you, I hope you will like it. 🙂

      This is how we live now.
      We forget how wonderful this planet is:
      how much it has to give us and our children;
      how miraculously it nourishes our dreams
      even though there are seven billions of us stepping on it,
      humiliating it,
      abandoning it.

      We forget
      how much it wants to educate us,
      love us,
      accept us,
      forgive us.
      It reminds me of my mother’s love:
      pure,
      unconditional,
      supportive,
      forgiving.
      Over and over again,
      no matter how much I hurt her,
      no matter how much I disrespect her,
      she embraces me with her vast oceans and liberating winds,
      she gives me a land to call home
      and wings to create one somewhere else.
      Just like my mother did.

      And what do we do?
      We take it for granted,
      this mesmerizing rotating ball of wonder,
      a common pulsating heart for us all
      and we shut our eyes and ears to its pain,
      we cut its roots of life,
      we dry its tears of joy,
      we melt its icy castles
      and shamelessly dare to call
      all of this never-ending destruction
      progress and GROWTH.

    • Geri

      Твоите стихови допреа и до мене. Фала ти!

      Мојот збор: “можеме!”

    • Ivona Kafedjiska

      Hold your hand,
      hold you in my arms,
      hold my breath,
      hold on to you,
      hold on to him,
      hold on a glass,
      hold on an illusion,
      put my dreams on hold…

      I held on so many things and so many people in fear
      before I learned how to
      hold my ground and not feel uncomfortable about it,
      fight for what I believe in and what I know for certain;
      hold our love and life together as equals and partners,
      not as two individuals who happen to only
      hold onto hopes and dreams that might never come true.

      I held on so many of my emotions back
      before I learned how to
      hold dear both my victories and defeats with pride;
      hold both my disappointment and joy with a sense of dignity;
      hold my body straight because I was born to grow and not bend;
      hold my head up high because I was born to shine;
      hold myself together from falling apart in pieces
      just because someone failed to see my inner light.

      I held on so much
      fear,
      shame,
      doubts,
      insecurities,
      hesitation,
      before I learned how to let go.
      Now I hold on to freedom,
      joy,
      love,
      breathing,
      growing.

      Now I hold on to me:
      I hold on to this phenomenal being of mine
      with all of its quirks, whims and imperfections
      because at the end of the day,
      I am all I got and
      I am what I hold dearest to my heart.

    • Ivona Kafedjiska

      Dear Stefi, thank you so much for your comment. It means a lot to me <3
      Here is your personalized story. Hope you will like it. 🙂

      The Fear of seeing my dreams come true: short story

      I wake up. It is 3am in the morning. I have been living through this nightmare for a while now: I tell everyone that life does not terrify me at all, but then I get these dreams where I do get seriously scared. My body shakes, my palms sweat, my breath quickens. It takes me a few seconds to remember where I am, what I do, who I am. I focus and try to remember what I have been dreaming about. Each day, the same dream.

      I see myself in my dreams without all of the burdens of my life. I see myself being perfect, happy, free to be exactly what I was supposed to be, free to be exactly what I had always wished to be. And yet, this dream petrifies me. It is ironic, really, how my nightmares are about all of my dreams transforming into reality.

      I try once again to fall asleep, but I cannot stop thinking. What do we all really wish for? What do we all strive for? What do we lack in our life to be content? What is the price we have to pay for our dreams to come true? And… what does truly stop us from living our life to the fullest: other people's expectations or our own paralyzing FEAR of what life might look like if we are living, and not only dreaming, the life of our dreams?

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