Monday, 19 March 2018

A poem by Sonja Besford


i drink wine in a dank bar on the bank of a brown river
i drum on the table with my left thumb
five beats in a bar simultaneously (that’s what i hear)
thinking about a woman who doesn’t belong
to anyone, anywhere, perhaps doesn’t even exist
it’s not relevant, no, it is relevant, so-o-o relevant,
i pray no one will find me in this hell-hole
intent on confessing his real or imaginary sins,
demanding my understanding,
my pauses and grunts taken for wisdom;
that is why i’ve come down here to the wrong river-bank
so i might become invisible, saturated with the smells
of fish soup, vinegar and the live infection sitting
at the table opposite, her face lit by a cigarette;

on the stained table cloth i project that woman who doesn’t
know that she exists, who doesn’t belong to anyone but me,
i see eleven ways of our skins meeting,
a free entwining of ghosts, subsiding shyness, togetherness,
i am a thread on her supple spool, bewitched executor of her
flights, she is the map-maker, the key holder to all my locks,
the opener of my unyielding secrets and the stories i’ve had
no one to tell, not until i imagined her listening to me —
i inhale the kitchen stink, feel real and possible, even cheerful,
but someone opens the front door and the inward draught
brings familiar voices, anxious, hungry, eager to find
my listening presence and reinstate my void

Sonja Besford was born in Belgrade (Serbia). She now lives in London and has thirteen books published. Her work has appeared in many magazines, and has been translated into various languages.
She is president of the Association of Serbian Writers and Artists Abroad (ASWA).


  1. i could listen to this woman sipping her wine in a dank bar on the bank of that brown river for hours and imagine that every pause, every grunt, is in reality, replete with wisdom and the scent of secrets - wonder full

  2. Beautiful account of someone longing to be heard yet surrounded by people who do not hear her in her real life