We spiral down slowly

over Sofia. The surrounding land agrarian

almost Bavarian: farms, yellow

fields, hay bales, red rooftops.

Mount Vitosha looms

enduring, gentle guardian.


The city proper asserts itself

with jutting man-made shapes

of questionable function and Soviet

apartment blocks. Yet green patches

amidst the concrete: stubborn life rises

from the confines of its past.


On the ground in a little rental car

we exit the airport,

pass through a Roma settlement

curious eyes glinting

through missing windowpanes. I am reminded

of your tale about Pembe:

a young nomadic woman with violet

eyes, barely real

held fleetingly, longed for

into old age.


In the Oborishte neighborhood at night

branches are down

leaves litter the street, surrendered

by imposing trees

to last night’s ravaging hailstorm.

We unload our suitcases

into the graffiti’d entrance

of a utilitarian building, glancing

over our shoulders

at shadows and silhouettes.

Finally, a tiny elevator

delivers us to the fourth floor:

an airy apartment, huge

windows glassy black, armored

and blind to the outside, our eyes

wide in the dark

waiting for morning, waiting

for the veil to lift over Sofia.


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