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Stones (excerpts)

ISSUE:  Fall 2011

We speak of the cities we lived in—
that went
into night like ships into the winter sea,

we speak of the cities that suddenly lost their ability to resist—
in front of our
eyes, like a circus show where every acrobat
dies, and so does each laughing clown; enchanted,
you watch,
never turning away (and inconspicuously
on the circus set
you grow up).

* * *

Now we remember: janitors and the night-sellers of bread,
gray, like wrapping paper,
taxi drivers with klaxons instead of hearts,
children who grew up
among the old furniture
(furniture smelled of poplar trees and sea).

Our city of workers and ugly middle-men,
tearjerking market beggars
they cleared
the autumn fog
with their shouts.

We got to soak in the rain
with strangers
on tram stops,
old proletarian quirks, subway cars,
we got to soak in the rain
on cars
loaded with the unemployed
like shops with catrigies.

* * *

And now we speak of those who took away our cities,
our cities
dying off like house pets,

And now we speak of those who took
our keys
(the keys we used to open the doors of the hospitals,
and walk between light
and dark of the morning pharmacies)
where every morning
the sun
was being set aflame
with all the little pills and painkillers this earth.

* * *

Who came to power in our cities?

Who are these
that decide
to break the hearts of our houses and let out their warm raspberry blood?

Their politics
is glass splinters which they scatter under their feet,
and make us
follow them.

Now they come
together in their black suits, looking like chimney-sweepers
who have come
to power.

Their politics is ropes instead of ties
on their necks,
firm ropes good for hanging them on when they exit the game.

And now they don’t know where to begin.

—Translated from Ukrainian by Valzhyna Mort


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