Five Russian Poems
Tulips and their capricious labia, their indecent appeal.
The absolute shamelessness of the flowers, but also the sinlessness.
The lushness of the earth, as before the fall.
To while away the evening with flowers and the hardship of dusk.
Yesterday, you said: it’s sad to part, but when now will we meet.
I told you a dream about incest and horror, about my father, about the
devouring of my body.
Under bridges, in underworlds, in hells – the furious brim of water,
Wind pierces the neck, snatches
the warm flesh of conversation.
She found a corpse in the cabbage with a slit throat.
She found a drowned man and a photo album.
She keeps the photographs safe.
A comb she found from someone else’s head.
Her hands burned for three days.
A memory I found from someone else’s shoulder.
My ears lit up like a birthday.
And will not be excised.
smutted by the tongue
scures the hysterical
abundance of things
making them quiet
Inside him climbed the soul of Paul Celan,
but did not settle,
and now he lives without a soul,
“just like a sweater,”
From the Ferris wheel you can see fall has come:
red and yellow trees; people
fly on a rocket in the middle of sadness. Homeless,
like astronauts in space: never to be
buried, but to drift or burn out
among the stars. Quiet animals gently lick
skin and hair, on Earth.
Translations from the Russian
Editorial Note: Read Jennifer Lobaugh's note on translating Tsibulia's poems from this same issue