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Circling Zero

Ana Ristovic

Reading from Southbank Centre's Poetry Parnassus festival, 2012. Reading in Serbian.

Translated from the Serbian by Steven and Maja Teref:
Circling Zero
We are independent women.
We breathe asthmatically
while waiting for new love. We pop pills
of unfulfilled promises. We drown in murky dreams.
Twenty-four hours a day we painfully make love
to a migraine and forgive her
because she is female.
Independent. For our men
we cook dishes taught to us
by their predecessors.
Clitoris-shaped pasta.
Ketchup dripping like menstrual blood
yet promising only the licking of plates.
But still we believe in the arc de triomphe
which rises between the bedsheets
and the kitchen table.
We play them the music
we lost our virginity to.
Pensive among seductive
lingerie, we keep underwear
with the invisible track of old sperm.
We gyrate our hips as if turning a mill:
after a while it drips
only sticky bitterness.
Yet we claim that we no longer believe
in sharing the same breath
between mouths
and more often we’re left breathless
yet we claim that we use the centrifuge
of the washing machine
only when sitting on it –
good intercourse may occur.
In the prewash and rinse cycles
instead of clothes we throw in
pieces of our thinned out skin.
Independent women. We censor
our all to soft words.
We support the revision of feelings
and the theory arguing that innocent Eve
was created first, and that Adam
bit into the poisoned apple
because he wished for God to create
two more phalluses from the serpent:
poor thing, he thought one
wouldn’t be enough.
Independent, we claim, more than ever.
Yet during lonely nights, in our tight vulva
more and more, we insert a magical finger,
as if placing a bullet into the chamber
which refuses to fire.
And we smile with sadness in dreamless dreams.
And the sage hand, circling
the soft zero.