Sanja Lovrenčić

Where were you, they ask me. I was above the gorge.

The gorge is overflown by birds, as if in competition, as if it is harder to overfly the gorge than fly the open skies, as if the gorge has an alluring power that needs to be withstood, flown over in spite, plunge and then stop.

Along the small path, there behind the castle, young nettle grows, the greenest one. There is no right word for the plants growing in the gorge, I am trying in vain with hues of gray and brown. It is the colour of mud left when the water retracted and it dried out in the sunny mornings and the colour of overflow ready to take a leap. And then the stone background.

If you have to say one word for all this, will it be “contrast”? Flight and gorge, white rocks against the darkness hiding in the bottom of the gaping chasm, weight of dried earth on trees and spring juices circulating faster and faster and the bark, a shiny rectangle of open balcony window and darkness in the small house? From the secretive sunset of the attic the pale golden spring light seems even clearer.

The Writers’ House, the house for writers. Clumsily bearing this flattering title, I exit every morning from the darkness to the balcony of the white lookout. Keeper of the gorge, I ensure that everything is in its place: castle to the right, bridge in the distance, a wreath of pine trees on the crest behind the bridge. Motel in the distance on the left hand side, its terrace hanging above the landscape, if there was someone standing there as I am standing here, we could send each other signs. But what message would I send out to this someone with my flags and smoke? That the morning is clear and chilly, they must have already noticed that. And that the river in the bottom of the gorge is still emerald blue.

Chill is urging me to move away from the balcony. I close the door and seat at the table. A cup of cranberry tea as the draft of a ritual that should take me away from here. To a place of ardent summer, to an island where different people try to do all sorts of things. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes the gorge with its birds and colours is louder and I reopen the door and take deep breaths of sunlight. Sometimes one sentence links to another and the sea in my book begins to shimmer.

I was above the gorge and I was writing a book about the sea.

It was nighttime and people came to whom I could talk about my stories.

Tanja arrived and we stood on the terrace beneath my balcony for a while, after that we went nettle picking.

Children from the local school came and I became the old-fashioned storyteller, the one who hands down, adds, dances on the wire.

I was given a pair of scissors and I cut the red ribbon marking the commencement of Istrakon.

And finally the day arrived for me to climb down this gorge, but earth was still too wet from the torrent which retracted only a few days before my arrival. And I didn’t see the torrent or the bottom of the gorge.