Reading: After Us by Nikola Madzirov

Nikola Madzirov (b. 1973) is a Macedonian poet, probably the most famous one alive, who also writes essays and translations. I was looking for a younger Eastern European poet today and I found him. The cool thing with younger poets is that you can talk with them on Facebook (uhm, not really). I read a poem about the Afterlife, that is life After us, from the collection Remnants from Another Age:

After Us
One day someone will fold our blankets
and send them to the cleaners
to scrub the last grain of salt from them,
will open our letters and sort them out by date
instead of by how often they’ve been read.

One day someone will rearrange the room’s furniture
like chessmen at the start of a new game,
will open the old shoebox
where we hoard pyjama-buttons,
not-quite-dead batteries and hunger.

One day the ache will return to our backs
from the weight of hotel room keys
and the receptionist’s suspicion
as he hands over the TV remote control.

Others’ pity will set out after us
like the moon after some wandering child.

Salt is life. The image of the blankets is familiar, I wrote about the stowing away of your bed after you die.  It also reminded me of Pesach, where they get rid not of the salt but of the yeast and clean the sheets for that purpose.  The metaphor of a mechanical, objective order (by date) versus a live order by importance (do we actually live like that? This poem is an imperative to do so!) is powerful.

The image of a new chessgame I like too; I can’t really relate to the contents of the shoebox though, having been born into a generation that didn’t know hunger and a middle class milieu that didn’t know hoarding.

There is an allusion that is a little bit too cryptic for my taste, to loneliness in a hotel room. Doe the weight of the keys stand for the shame of the lonely hotel guest or am I reading stuff into these lines that are not there at all? Is he watching porn on his hotel TV or not?

These last lines, which I’m sure sound much better in the original language, they stick with me. I’ll remember them because I want to quote them some time.

Here is an interesting article on Madzirov.

And here is the original poem. You can listen to the sound in Macedonian too, of those last lines. Yes, they sound pretty:

Туѓите сожалувања ќе тргнат по нас
како месечина по заталкано дете.

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