Duska pays her tribute to one of 20 th century’s important woman writer, Isidora.*

Fifty years, fifty summers,
you have lain here, my Isidora,
knitting moonlight in Topčider Cemetery,
your arms full of rains,
your face covered by handfuls of earth,
surrounded by swarms of glow-worms,
glimmering guardians of crucified light.

You still lie alone, dreaming
of a white room, and a bed
too wide for your own body
too narrow for longing.

I often call on you here
to pay my respects from afar
yet would not disturb the wing of a swallow
perching on your shoulder.

It is late afternoon
in a time
when we stagger from exhaustion
and give up the ghost.

I see you pass
down the flagstone pavement
down the crooked path
of the last ray of light.

For an instant, as if by chance,
you turn and glance back:
Serbs do not like intelligent women.

They respect them, but do not love them.
Fifty years, fifty summers,
you have passed here, my Isidora,
knitting moonlight in Topčider Cemetery,
and your fellow travellers
pass through the room where I write
to touch my forehead with a cold hand,
pausing to scrawl, on the same prescription,
their cure for fever, their poison for the soul.

*Translators’ Note: The poem is dedicated to Isidora Sekulić (1887-1958), one of Yugoslavia’s foremost twentieth-century women writers, who is buried in the cemetery in Topčider Park, on the outskirts of Belgrade. Born in Mošorin, Vojvodina, Isidora Sekulić was a distinguished linguist and scholar, who graduated from the Sorbonne and Budapest and obtained her doctoral degree in Germany. She worked as a mathematics teacher in several Serbian towns, and eventually in Belgrade, living modestly and alone. She wrote fiction, travel books and essays, was devoted to her country’s people and traditions, and translated extensively, especially from English. A reference is made in the poem to her collection of short stories, ‘Fellow Travellers’.

©Duška Vrhovac

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Duska Vrhovac

Duska Vrhovac

Duška Vrhovac, poet, writer, journalist and translator from Banja Luka, ex-Yugoslavia, graduated from the Faculty of Philology, Belgrade University. She has published 20 books of poetry, which have been translated, in more than 20 languages. She is one of the most important contemporary poets from Serbia. She has received important awards for poetry and the gold medal for the ‘generosity, dedication, perseverance and creative contributions… made to spread the culture of the nationalities of the Republic of Serbia’.
Duska Vrhovac

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