White city

It used to be called the White city, my hometown.

And it really was white. I remember, how through my

window I could see where two rivers merge with

sky in the most beautiful lightness…

Yesterday I came to the White city.

Of its entire glorious glow there are only pigeons trying to fly,

not having wings to lift themselves above the grey net

of dark clouds made of sorrows and unlived dreams.

People walk and talk, just as they used to,

but instead of smile they wear masks:

Mask 1: “Good morning boss!”

Mask 2: “I’ll pick up the groceries, dear!”

Mask 3: “What a great game tonight!”

Now, White city is full of labyrinths.

For each room you have to put the right mask.

It helps you navigate.

If you put the wrong one,

streets just swallow you.

The streets…once a safe place to be.

I used to play on the streets of my white city…

Just how many knee cuts they have absorbed!

I’d liked when concrete caressed me on my head.

Streets are now landslides of children cry, abandon lovers,

cars that start only on your yelling.

Skyscrapers don’t exist any more.

Shoe boxes have replaced them.

In public transport,

we have to climb on each other’s heads

in order to move…And that’s the only way for you to know

in which labyrinth room you are.

There are no windows,

and why would you need them?

Sulfur and nitrogen have replaced fresh air.

Is ever light going to return to the White city?

I don’t know. I would like to.

Maybe some new generations

will help rivers merge again with sky

in the most beautiful lightness.

Maja S. Todorovic

Note: This is a poem, published as a part of  The Disappearing project by Red Room Company. It was written as my impression of visiting my hometown after longer absence. Beograd I was born in and used to know, really doesn’t exist anymore. Sadly, but true.


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