You Could Have…by Ivanka Radmanović


You Could Have…
by Ivanka Radmanović

Among the blooming rosemary
soaked by the rain,
under bewildering domes of
black cypresses,
with your face bleached by the storm
and your hair in waterfalls,
barefoot you walk along the old path,
down the ancient stone stairs,
avoiding stepping on soaked
fig leaves, glued to the ground.
behind you: the fortress of spirits from which you now run
ever so slowly, as if you were dancing.
over you: the horrifying, black, unforgiving sky.
In front of you: the half open iron gate, waves, and the gushing sea.
Through the howling wind and the shuddering blinds, I know,
you must hear the broken sound of an old piano.
I watch your descent, in silence,
through the window drowned with rain drops:
your slim body visibly shaking
under the veil of a soaked dress,
your shimmering bare feet with pale pink heels,
the cold fingers of your fine hands
tearing off rosemary leaves in passing,
your eyes as dark as the bristling skies,
your voice as absent as a frightened bird,
your heart that overrides the roar of thunder,
your lack of fear stronger than the broken sea.
I keep quiet. I don’t stop you while your hand
opens the rusty iron gate.
I don’t scream your name through the creaking of hinges
and gusts of wind.
I don’t prevent your descent
towards the seething abyss of water.
all the universe subdued in this garden of paradise,
now unrecognizable:
the roar, and turmoil, and the sea foam,
furious whipping of branches and the white statues
scattered across the garden,
without a cry, without a sigh, without a word:
When will you stop leaving me?

Translated from Serbian by the poet and James Sutherland-Smith

PHOTO: Iron gate and rosemary bushes leading to the Adriatic Sea at the home of author Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić (1874-1938), Rijeka, Croatia, where “You Could Have…” was written.  Photo from


NOTE: Rijeka is the principal seaport and the third-largest city in Croatia. Located on Kvarner Bay, an inlet of the Adriatic Sea, in 2011 Rijeka had a population of 128,624. Because of its strategic position, the city was contested over the centuries by Italy, Hungary, and Croatia.  Rijeka was selected as the European Capital of Culture for 2020, alongside Galway, Ireland.

PHOTO: Rijeka, Croatia. Photo by Ivan Vuksa, used by permission.

Ivanka Radmanovic

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ivanka Radmanović graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology, Department of Fashion Design in New York City (USA). She has published three collections of poetry: Where is My Home (Где је моја кућа, 2016), Heavenly Cage (Рајски кавез, 2014), and AMARANTH or About Eternal Love (АМАРАНТ или О бесмртној љубави, 2013). For her book Heavenly Cage, in 2015 she received the prestigious Milan Rakic Award. She translates from English, and is a member of the Association of Writers of Serbia, Association of Writers of Vojvodina, and the Association of Scientific and Technical Translators of Serbia.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: