Dimiter Kenarov is a freelance journalist based in Sofia, Bulgaria. His articles have appeared in Esquire, The Nation, Foreign Policy, VQR, and The New York Times, among others. He is currently at work on a biography of the Bulgarian writer and dissident Georgi Markov (forthcoming, Grove/Atlantic).
By Dimiter Kenarov
Shy as a muse, skittish, scared,
she runs away from me each time
I call her name. Giulietta! Giulietta!
What’s in a name? Tenderness
and orange fire! The roses smell
much better when she pees on them.
Yet terror rules her heart, instead
of beauty. It softly murmurs the stories
of her past. How someone whom
she loved betrayed her. Dark
roots uphold the April grass.
Proud of his beauty, he lies on the couch
among oriental cushions, like an odalisque,
lazy and a little bored. His languid eyes
demand your eyes, his curly coat demands
your hand. Ingres would have painted him,
had he been interested in animals.
“If he were human,” Beatrice tells me,
“You’d have fallen in love with him.”
I’m in love with Paride, the destroyer
of goddesses’ hearts and human kingdoms,
who carelessly gave the highest prize
to the prettiest girl. Had he known
the consequences, would he have done it
again? Perhaps. Always the aesthete,
he never failed to appreciate the various
shades of red, and even the yellow
of the flames engulfing his own city.
Such craftsmanship! Such lovely light!
Tiny, lame, incontinent: the runt
of the litter. Nobody wanted her, so
Beatrice picked her, determined to fix
God’s faulty workmanship.
(Men are always such sloppy workers.)
Now she is a bionic pug, and boasts
a spine of steel. She drags her feet
a bit, but when you watch her carefully
you can feel her soul’s a hound,
chasing after the deer of ecstasy.
Among the roses of Santa Maddalena,
she has become a little rose herself.
She has inherited this earth.
Dear girl, you are tireless, committed,
a ball of furry fuel that could light up
Donnini, Florence, and New York City.
A dozen of you would save the planet.
Thank you for the stick you bring me;
thank you for the root, the stone.
Every day you teach me what art is:
not just old objects made new again,
but obsession, mania. Dear girl,
run and fetch my weary bones.
Like the Sybil of Cumae, she has lived too long,
her years are as numerous as grains of dust.
Her body’s shriveled now, she’s almost blind,
having forgotten to ask Apollo for eternal youth.
Alone, all day and night, inside her cave,
she guards the entrance to the underworld;
and yet, when natures starts to bud, in early May,
she ventures out, and smells the sodden earth.
Carlotta, dearest, the light is fading now,
faster and faster, and night is almost here,
but don’t be fearful: the stars will soon be out
and you will heed the music of the spheres.