Monday, May 10, 2010

"I'm an Old-Fashioned Girl" by Radmila Lazic

I'm an Old-Fashioned Girl

by Radmila Lazic
Translated from Serbian by Charles Simic

I'm an old-fashioned girl.
I like low houses with pock-marked walls
With yards full of junk
Instead of skyscrapers and apartment houses
Where I wake and sleep.
Geraniums on windowsills in polka-dot cans,
I prefer to artificial flowers.
I'm an old-fashioned girl,
That likes a scotter better than an automobile,
The rattle of a street car,
The rumble of a steam locomotive,
More than a whistle of a jet.
Footpaths instead of avenues and boulevards
Where my heels go clicking.
I'm an old-fasioned girl,
That likes the smell of clean laundry
The wind brings to my face, over my nose,
Everything that falls like snow in my previous life.
I'm an old-fashioned girl,
I still listen to long playing records
And type on an Olivetti.
I say thank you, please excuse me.
I like when a gentleman gives me light,
Opens the door for me,
Holds my coat, offers me a chair.
And takes my clothes off garment by garment.
I'm an old-fashioned girl,
That likes kitsch landscapes with sunsets,
Fashion magazines and family albums.
Close dancing is the only kind I understand.
I watch the new movies in the old way
Sitting in the half-dark,
Practicing French-kissing in the last row.
I'm an old-fashioned girl,
I don't go buzzing around
I'm always to be found at home
Like a clay pot drying in the draft
Of solitude and contentment,
Hangover from all the dreaming.
I'm an old-fashioned girl,
That's cooking in her own casserole
Called I-want-I-don't-want.
I know little about love and passion,
A widow born with a virgin's heart
Under whose feet life pours out
Like steam out of a manhole
Which I avoid with my quick steps.
I'm an old-fashioned girl,
I buy nothing at bargain rates,
Neither smiles nor rolls of silk.
I don't wear mini skirts and low cut dresses
To make it easy for whoever
Wants to steal a kiss.
I'm an old-fashioned girl.
I don't cuss, complain or rage.
You can spread me on your toast,
Although honey always comes with a bit of poison,
Love in fatal doses
I'm an old-fashioned girl,
My old boyfriend pinches me like a new shoe
Which I need to take off, replace
With someone as comfortable as a slipper,
Or broken in like my neighbor's husband.
I'm an old-fashioned girl,
Nice to all the guys
As I am to all those who are afraid of the dark,
Afraid of elevators
And crossing the street where it's not allowed.
I'm an old-fashioned girl,
As ancient as Carthage,
Minimally damaged by the tooth of time.
A museum piece that is not at auction.
Touching is not permitted.
Take it or leave it!

Original text of the poem in Serbian:

Source of the text, in Serbian and English - Radmila Lazic, "I'm an Old-Fashioned Girl," translated by Charles Simic, from Circumference: Poetry in Translation, vol. 1, issue 1, 2003, pp. 18-21.

TJB: Pose-poem. This stoic-feminine litany in 12 parts toggles between simple declaration of stuff the “poet” likes; & lyrical flights-of-fancy.

No comments:

Post a Comment

About Me