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Vasko Popa

(1922 - 1991 / Vojvodina / Serbia)

A Forgetful Number


Once upon a time there was a number
Pure and round like the sun
But alone very much alone

It began to reckon with itself

It divided multiplied itself
It subtracted added itself
And remained always alone

It stopped reckoning with itself
And shut itself up in its round
And sunny purity

Outside were left the fiery
Traces of its reckoning

They began to chase each other through the dark
To divide when they should have multiplied themselves
To subtract when they should have added themselves

That's what happens in the dark

And there was no one to ask it
To stop the traces
And to rub them out.


Trans. Anne Pennington

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003
Edited: Monday, September 05, 2011

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