Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Gordana Benić

The Inverted City

All four quarters of the world begin from an occult
groundplan.
The sketch of the inverted city is like
a chessboard. In black-and-white fields
depicted knights and pawns, horsemen and
men-at-arms whose spears smell of dry leaves
and cracked earth.
Facades are like vast doors, and pavements
like rectangles pressed down by the walls’ shadow.
Where one expects the city to begin the universe shrinks
and the earth founders in the darkness.
Passers-by say: the swallow-well of fortune is here.
They lean over invisible circles, toss in a coin
or lucky charm that long rolls in the dark;
like a cooled and stifled sun.
From the interior of the city people are like shadows.
They drip along the thin membranes of slender roots.
Like tubers they collect the damp blueness
of wrecked walls. The dark divides silently
about the verticals of the empty avenues.
Where one expects the city to end, bright sky
above a masthead. Islands of silt between
abandoned courtyards. Not far away is a
railway station with freshly painted signs and drinking
fountain encircled by a wooden fence.
A lion and a serpent canopy the droplets’ reflections.
Obscure the signals by which the moonlight yields to the waters of the earth.
One hears the rolling of the sea and the rocks.
The sculptor Ferroni gives his first instruction to the local masons.
Objects buried deep have the scent of a sand-covered
floor. They take their true shape from constellations
scattered in the darkening paths.
In the inverted city spring and winter change
places, through a multitude of cracks.
History sheds what was sleeping under the
swan’s wing. What inscriptions swam into view
in the astronomers’ calendars?
Summer and autumn brim with their proper legends.
Unhemmed maps of past centuries in the wells.
The sages renounce the tales of the stars.
Clearings in the underground illuminated by bright
crystals: they are brighter than Halley’s comet.
They await it in September:
a tailed star, returning once every three thousand years.
They will see it on the horizon in a misty
cloak of foam. Stargazers watch toward the sea,
clad in white. They move away from the walls
and float like the fluorescent numbers of
watches in darkness. The city still sways before them;
a shining sapphire sails with the stars
like a solid dazzling ship
from Lloyd’s museum.

Obrnuti grad

Obrnuti grad

Sve četiri strane svijeta počinju u tajnovitu
tlocrtu. Nacrt obrnuta grada sličan je šahovskoj
ploči. U crno-bijelim kvadratima
ucrtani skakači i pješaci, konjanici i oklopnici
čija koplja mirišu na suho lišće
i raspuknutu zemlju.
Pročelja su nalik golemim vratima, a pločnici
kao pravokutnici pritisnuti sjenom zidova.
Gdje se očekuje početak grada sužava se svemir
i zemlja tone u mrak.
Prolaznici kažu: tu je ponorni bunar sreće.
Naginju se nad nevidljive krugove, ubace metalni
novčić ili kakav amulet što se dugo kotrlja
u tami; kao zgusnuto i ohlađeno sunce.
S unutarnje strane grada ljudi su sjene.
Kaplju niz tanke stijenke uska korijenja.
Poput gomolja sakupljaju modru vlagu
urušenih zidova. Mrak se bezglasno dijeli
po okomicama praznih aleja.
Gdje se očekuje prestanak grada, ponad jarbola
svjetluca nebo. Između pustih dvorišta
otočići od mulja. Nedaleko je željeznička
postaja sa svježe obojenim natpisima i česma
okružena drvenom ogradom.
Odraze kapljica natkriljuju lav i zmija.
Nečitljivi su znaci kojima se mjesečina daje zemnim vodama.
Čuje se kotrljanje mora i kamenja.
Kipar Ferroni daje prve poduke mjesnim klesarima.
Duboko zakopani predmeti mirišu na pijeskom
pokriveno dno. Istinski oblik daje im zviježđe
rasuto zamračenim stazama.
Zima i proljeće u obrnutom gradu izmjenjuju
se kroz mnoge pukotine.
Povijest svlači što je bilo pod krilom usnula
labuda. Kakvi su izronili zapisi
u kalendarima zvjezdara?
Ljeto i jesen ispunjeni su prigodnim legendama.
U zdencima raskrojene karte minulih stoljeća.
Odgonetači se odriču priča o zvijezdama.
Proplanci u podzemlju obasjani svjetlećim
kristalima; sjajniji su od Halleyeve komete.
U rujnu očekuju repaticu:
vraća se nakon tri tisuće godina.
Vidjet će je na obzoru u magličastoj košuljici
od pjene. Zvjezdoznanci gledaju put mora,
odjeveni u bijelo. Odvajaju se od zidova
i lebde kao fluorescentne brojke na zamračenim
satovima. Pred njima još se ljulja grad;
zajedno sa zvijezdama plovi sjajni safir
kao opipljivi i blistav brod
iz Lloydova muzeja.
Close

The Inverted City

All four quarters of the world begin from an occult
groundplan.
The sketch of the inverted city is like
a chessboard. In black-and-white fields
depicted knights and pawns, horsemen and
men-at-arms whose spears smell of dry leaves
and cracked earth.
Facades are like vast doors, and pavements
like rectangles pressed down by the walls’ shadow.
Where one expects the city to begin the universe shrinks
and the earth founders in the darkness.
Passers-by say: the swallow-well of fortune is here.
They lean over invisible circles, toss in a coin
or lucky charm that long rolls in the dark;
like a cooled and stifled sun.
From the interior of the city people are like shadows.
They drip along the thin membranes of slender roots.
Like tubers they collect the damp blueness
of wrecked walls. The dark divides silently
about the verticals of the empty avenues.
Where one expects the city to end, bright sky
above a masthead. Islands of silt between
abandoned courtyards. Not far away is a
railway station with freshly painted signs and drinking
fountain encircled by a wooden fence.
A lion and a serpent canopy the droplets’ reflections.
Obscure the signals by which the moonlight yields to the waters of the earth.
One hears the rolling of the sea and the rocks.
The sculptor Ferroni gives his first instruction to the local masons.
Objects buried deep have the scent of a sand-covered
floor. They take their true shape from constellations
scattered in the darkening paths.
In the inverted city spring and winter change
places, through a multitude of cracks.
History sheds what was sleeping under the
swan’s wing. What inscriptions swam into view
in the astronomers’ calendars?
Summer and autumn brim with their proper legends.
Unhemmed maps of past centuries in the wells.
The sages renounce the tales of the stars.
Clearings in the underground illuminated by bright
crystals: they are brighter than Halley’s comet.
They await it in September:
a tailed star, returning once every three thousand years.
They will see it on the horizon in a misty
cloak of foam. Stargazers watch toward the sea,
clad in white. They move away from the walls
and float like the fluorescent numbers of
watches in darkness. The city still sways before them;
a shining sapphire sails with the stars
like a solid dazzling ship
from Lloyd’s museum.

The Inverted City

All four quarters of the world begin from an occult
groundplan.
The sketch of the inverted city is like
a chessboard. In black-and-white fields
depicted knights and pawns, horsemen and
men-at-arms whose spears smell of dry leaves
and cracked earth.
Facades are like vast doors, and pavements
like rectangles pressed down by the walls’ shadow.
Where one expects the city to begin the universe shrinks
and the earth founders in the darkness.
Passers-by say: the swallow-well of fortune is here.
They lean over invisible circles, toss in a coin
or lucky charm that long rolls in the dark;
like a cooled and stifled sun.
From the interior of the city people are like shadows.
They drip along the thin membranes of slender roots.
Like tubers they collect the damp blueness
of wrecked walls. The dark divides silently
about the verticals of the empty avenues.
Where one expects the city to end, bright sky
above a masthead. Islands of silt between
abandoned courtyards. Not far away is a
railway station with freshly painted signs and drinking
fountain encircled by a wooden fence.
A lion and a serpent canopy the droplets’ reflections.
Obscure the signals by which the moonlight yields to the waters of the earth.
One hears the rolling of the sea and the rocks.
The sculptor Ferroni gives his first instruction to the local masons.
Objects buried deep have the scent of a sand-covered
floor. They take their true shape from constellations
scattered in the darkening paths.
In the inverted city spring and winter change
places, through a multitude of cracks.
History sheds what was sleeping under the
swan’s wing. What inscriptions swam into view
in the astronomers’ calendars?
Summer and autumn brim with their proper legends.
Unhemmed maps of past centuries in the wells.
The sages renounce the tales of the stars.
Clearings in the underground illuminated by bright
crystals: they are brighter than Halley’s comet.
They await it in September:
a tailed star, returning once every three thousand years.
They will see it on the horizon in a misty
cloak of foam. Stargazers watch toward the sea,
clad in white. They move away from the walls
and float like the fluorescent numbers of
watches in darkness. The city still sways before them;
a shining sapphire sails with the stars
like a solid dazzling ship
from Lloyd’s museum.
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Prins Bernhard cultuurfonds
Lira fonds
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère