Jet-Legged by Biljana Obradovic
Biljana Obradovic, a Serbian-American, has lived in Yugolsavia, Greece, and India besides the US. Her books of poems include Le Riche Monde, a bilingual edition (Raska Skola, Belgrade, and Cross-Cultural Communications, Merrick, NY, 1999), and Frozen Embraces, a bilingual edition (Center of Emigrants from Serbia, Belgrade, and Cross-Cultural Communications, Merrick, NY, 1997), which won the Rastko Petrovic Award for the Best Book of 1998, and was in its second edition (2000). Her poems also appear in Three Poets in New Orleans (Xavier Review Press, New Orleans, 2000). She is also a translator of John Gery's American Ghost: Selected Poems (Cross-Cultural Communications, Merrick, NY, 1999), and editor and translator of the bilingual Fives: Fifty Poems by Serbian and American Poets (Cross-Cultural Communications, Merrick, New York 2002). Her translation of US Poet Laureate, 2000-2001, Stanley Kunitz's selected poems into Serbian The Long Boat (Dugi camac) as well as a translation of Bratislav Milanovic's poems into English, entitled The Unnecessary Chronicle, appeared in Belgrade, Serbia in the fall 2007. She has also translated Desanka Maksimovic's poems into English. Her work has also appeared in several anthologies and such magazines as Prairie Schooner, Bloomsbury Review, Poetry East, The Plum Review and Knjizevne Novine. She reviews books for World Literature Today.
On the way East over the Atlantic
when it suddenly becomes night,
after they close window shutters
on the plane to play movies, they
serve us cocktails, then dinner and wine.
One after the other movies play.
I watch one, fall asleep
during the second, and during the third
they bring breakfast which seems
to be in the middle of the night.
I eat, drink the orange juice, and
Wipe my eyes over and over.
We gather our things to exit
after the landing, run through
the strange airport (in countries
I've never been) to catch the next flight
to Belgrade. Before we land there
I look below for my parents' grave
in a cemetery in New Belgrade.
Sometimes I see it, sometimes
the plane goes elsewhere.
We exit, gather our suitcases
(which were not lost this time)
and the customs officers ask us
the usual, "Do you have something
to declare?" We don't, but I want to say:
I would be home if my parents were alive.
I would be home if the country were as it was
when I left it twenty years ago for America.
I would be home, but I am just a visitor
eager to find a bed and take a rest
then visit the graveyards as I do every summer
and lay fresh flowers and some plastic ones
I'd brought from overseas, which the gypsies
steal very time. Yet, I keep coming back.
Will someone come to my grave over there?