Rain in Skopje

Have you ever been to Macedonia?
That’s where the sun shines, just like this.
The city became yellow from the dry
gnashing heat.

That’s where Dad worked,
in yellow Macedonia.
We went down there in the summer,
I remember how I used to curl up
inside the searing hot train car,
and for twenty-three hours,
we’d sit
my skin sticking ceaselessly
to the plastic leather seats.

Dad waits for us in Skopje
with a Greek driver. We all laugh,
the summer squeezing our shoulders,
the bits of dust couldn’t cover
my mother,
Dad manages all the bags,
we stand and we all just laugh,
then the rain pours down on our heads.

Dad’s cigarette butts soak
in the ashtray next to me.
I look up at the rooftops, the white sky
and the raindrops pouring out of it,
it doesn’t stop for days,
soaks the horse
tied to the lamppost
whose head hangs, then
you just wait
for the water
to mix into mud.

In Macedonia I hardly pay
attention to anything
but myself,
it’s strange how my mother
just keeps laughing,
Dad’s shoulders are so wide
he hides the sun
from us.

And I remember
how my father stood in Skopje,
facing our train car
at the station.
Behind us gypsies
play their trumpets,
and my father laughs sadly,
he says he’d give anything, if only
we’d stay and bother him still.
My mom giggles like a little girl,
and the conductor stares at us,
it’s good my father doesn’t notice
my sister and I are blushing.

He waves mournfully,
and all of Macedonia turns black.
My dad seemed so big and strong
there in Skopje’s station,
I thought he’d protect us
from anything, I shouldn’t fear,
but he didn’t
protect us, sir,
mostly from

And I sat silently until Belgrade,
my face sweaty
under my glasses,
and I would have liked to sleep
until I could hide again
behind my father’s wide shoulders.

Translated by: Kristen Herbert


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