I want to write you a poem
but where to begin?
With your pocked facades
and unruly pavements?
With your non-stop shops and trolley cars?
The sociology of balcony design
or the semiotics of disconnected electrical wiring?
With the slow progress of pensioners
burdened with bags crammed full
of secondhand clothes and bargains from Billa?
With the kids after school in a сладкарница
laughing with disbelief into their mobile phones
or the pyjama’d men chain-smoking
between satellite dishes and sheets out to dry?
With the chess-players waiting for opponents
among the students with Шуменско bottles
on the benches that line the theatre gardens?
With your pigeons, your magpies, your jays?
With your trees coming into blossom
and newly hung with мартеници?
With the light on the snow of your mountain
or the spit and crackle of a pantograph
as a tram pulls round the corner
outside the Palace of Justice?
With the coffee and cigarette sellers
in their subterranean kiosks
and the customers crouched down
with plastic cups of espresso?
With your dog-walkers walking pert dogs
that trot in circles by the Borisova lily pond
or the crowd of commuters dispersing
through subway labyrinths and emerging into squares
and ad-hoc bazaars with snow-drops in jam-jars
and embroidered tablecloths laid out by piebald furs?
With the bagpipes keening over traffic noise
by a zebra crossing on your Yellow Pavements
or a jaunty trilling accordion by the open door
of a souvenir shop on sun-splashed Vitoshka?
With waiters laying tables outside cafes
on the first good day of spring,
with the smell of rose oil in Serdika metro,
the taste of баница, the burn of ракия
with a lightning storm one humid August,
or with the disc of the moon poised, silver,
above the gold domes of Nevsky?
I wanted to write you a poem
but even in plain view you’re elusive
and I am only just starting to know you –
so for now there are only beginnings,
but those beginnings, it seems, will be endless.