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Toshka Ivanova


I trip over and loose balance. The cross in my hands swings violently. I firm my grip on it and steady my step.

The sun is glued above as if enraged by the whole world. But the sky shines cleanly washed, nothing moves there. The people drag their feet on the scorched earth, stirring up clouds of dust. The specks of dust scratch my throat, I am short of breath.

There is written my name. On the cross in my hands is written my name.

The procession moves slowly towards the end of the cemetery. Here and there pale old gravestones, rains and winds almost obliterated the names on them. The earth will swallow them in few more years.

I continue tripping over and my tears mix with dust, dirty rivulets on my cheeks. In my hands, the cross is heavy and angular as if made not of wood, but of years.

We reach the end of the cemetery. Next to the freshly dug grave two men lean on their shovels, watching us and smoking. When we stop, they move a few steps back and lower their heads. The priest nods at me to give him the cross and erects it next to himself. The car with the coffin stops nearby and men fuss behind it. I am grateful I did not walk behind the car. I am grateful I did not see how the wheels jump up and down on the rough road, making the open casket rattle and shake.

I carry the cross. The wooden cross with my name on it.

They lower the coffin in the grave, the priest mumbles few words, and everybody throws a handful of dirt in the hole. Black and moist dirt, which the sun dries up in my hand. Somebody gives a muffled cry.

I cry. I mourn myself; I mourn sunny mornings, smelling of jam and crepes; I mourn my knees scratched by blackberry bush; I mourn unmoving afternoons, frozen by the buzzing sound of flies; I mourn evenings under the cherry-tree and nights, when one wriggles between cool sheets, listening to crickets telling dreams. I mourn my childhood. I mourn warm hands smelling of home-made soap, I mourn a pair of smiling grey eyes. The grandmother I am named after.

I carry her cross and her name.



© Toshka Ivanova
© Vesselin Vesselinov, Craig Hasbrouck - translated from bulgarian
© E-magazine LiterNet, 01.09.2016, № 9 (202)