I’ll be a wicked old woman,
thin as a rail,
the way I am now.
Not one of those big-assed ones
with buttocks churning behind them,
as Celine said.
Not one of the good-natured grandmas and aunties
against whose soft and plump arms
it is nice to lay one’s cheek.
I’m more like a scarecrow
in our gardens full of rosy tomatoes
like children’s cheeks.
There are some old crones
who are both vivacious and angry as a bee
with eyes on top of their heads
who see everything, hear everything and have an opinion -
grumblers since birth.
I’ll squawk and chatter all day,
cackle like a hen over her chicks
about the days when I was
a young, good-looking girl.
When I led boys by the nose.
Colts and stallions I tamed,
with the flash in my eyes, the flash of my skirt,
passing over infidelities and miseries
the way a general passes over his lost battles.
I’ll be free to do anything as an old woman,
among things I still can and want to do
like playing bridge or dancing
the light-footed dances of my days.
I’ll spin and trip on my stick-like legs,
attached to my body like toothpicks to a kabob.
That old hag sure can boogie!
The young smarties gathered around me
will shout and applaud.
An old woman like a well-baked bun with sesame seeds,
that’s what I’m going to be like.
I’ll stick between everyone’s teeth, as I did before,
while with a wide hat and dresses down to the ground
I stroll through the landscapes of my past life.
Smelling the furze, admiring the heather,
on every thistle catching my undergarment - my soul.
translated from the Serbian by Charles Simic
Born in Serbia, Charles Simic is one of America’s leading poets. He won the 1990 Pulitzer Prize. His own poetry is published in Britain by Faber. He teaches at the University of New Hampshire.