Kresimir Bagic

Kresimir Bagic was born in 1962. A poet, a critic and a scientist. His collections of poetry include Each Letter is a Whore, Between two Deep Drags, A Tree Top Ivy and A Language for Every Distance. He is editor of the broad survey of younger Croatian fiction The Light-sleeping Mailmen. He teaches stylistics at the Zagreb Faculty of Philosophy. From 1996 to 1999 he worked as a Croatian language and literature instructor at the Sorbonne.

The Market-Place of Dubrava
Translated by Stipe Grgas. Scroll down to read The Rise.

We built the market-place in Dubrava
I can tell you this today
it was Ribe, Andjelko, Sime and me
kneading clay moulding bricks
no one could do a thing to us.

We built the market-place in Dubrava
I can tell you this today
planted stalls in the morning and walls
watered them at noon
so that they grow straight and bloom.

On the meadow in water and mud
we built the market-place in Dubrava
when we finished
ten men from Dalmatia appeared
and invited us to a game of boccie.

We joined them, played and won,
Ribe, Andjelko, Sime and I
after a year we returned to the market-place
and the Dalmatians were there selling
cod almonds and seakale beet.

We bought the papers and each drank a beer
Andjelko said: 'we built the market-place'
and Ribe: 'it doesn't matter, we're Dalmatians'.
Sime and I said nothing, ordered coffee and played a game of darts.

Next day Ribe began charging fees for the stalls
Andjelko became his right hand man
today people from Zagorje and Bosnia call them 'sir', offer them salads for lunch and fruit for afters, the Dalmatians take them out for beer.

But both Sime and I built the market-place in Dubrava, nowadays we buy cod almonds and seakale beet there, Sime's home burnt down in Dalmatia, I myself became a teacher in Zagreb, whenever they have time, Ribe and Andjelko join us in a game of darts.

The Rise
Translated by Stipe Grgas.

Suddenly the mountain, high,
white with snow,
in front of me.

I look at it and it says: 'climb!'
so I climb
collect snow.

I make the whiteness a gift of voice-flakes.
the mute curtain of the sky grows
with each movement.

When, finally, I reach the top,
I lie down to rest
and bow before the crown of the sky.

But the mountain gives me no peace and says:
in you I've lost myself,
now you are the mountain.

And, quick as lightning, it folds itself together,
vanishes into the earth,
becomes a grain of dust.

Flabbergasted, I hang in mid-air,
a kind of star in a puppet theatre.

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