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ISSUE:  Autumn 1978

How can we slow time down?
How can we shed rot, Raspad?
Sleepless nights on the Volga coast
unleash miracles.

Where the eye relied
on the droughty steppe for mercy,
there, in swirling mist,
the haystack of revolution rises.

In distant granaries and silos
rats get drunk on wheat,
beams and sacks catch fire,
roofs settle like dew.

Stars have hot silent disputes:
where did Balashov disappear?
Is Khoper the nearest river?
The air of the steppe is alerted:

it senses, it drinks the spirit
of soldiers’ riots and heat lightning,
halts, turns into ears,
lies down, hears: “Turn around.”

Empty echoes. I cannot sleep.
Tinder flickers across the square.
There, night shakes on its root
and kisses the coal of dawn.


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