New Series No. 20 - 2002
A Portrait of the Blockade
Through Genre, Still Life and Landscape
1 Eyewitness Account (Genre)
Past Andreevsky market
A man walks in the blockade.
Suddenly – an incredible vision:
The aroma of soup, a soup apparition!
Two stout babas
Pour the soup into plates,
People drink, and huddle closer,
Staring down into their reflected pupils.
Suddenly the police –
Knock plates out of hands,
Fire into the air:
People, you are eating human flesh!
The babas’ chubby arms are bent back,
Led to the firing squad,
They walk and quietly howl,
And from their eyes wolfs’ paws
Claw the air.
The passerby is too late to share in the soup.
A bird pecks it up from the ground – she is worse off.
And he leaves, stepping over the dead
Or walking around them, like puddles.
2 Still Life
Garbage dusks lap at the window.
A youth is hunched over impatiently,
Glancing at a casserole restlessly . . .
Inside it a cat gurgles!
You arrive, he calls it “rabbit”,
You eat, he laughs so savagely.
Soon he dies. In the air you quietly
Trace with coal a nature (o indeed!) morte.
A candle, a fragment of carpenter’s glue,
A ration of bread, a handful of lentils.
Rembrandt! How one wants to live and pray.
Even if frozen, even if ossified.
3 Mixed Landscape. Stairway, yard, church.
(paper, coal, raven’s blood)
Neither a brother nor a father anymore –
A shade they lead,
Their guns pressed against his tailbone.
A naked bulb dangles similarly,
A draught presses in from the basement.
Behind this damp blue paint – there’s yellow, behind it green,
Do not scrape to the void, there’s no need,
There stand plaster and vapours of hell.
Here, eat up, a potato pink colour.
You have nothing more, blockade, my bone!
What have you eaten? Tell me:
Blue frost off of rocks,
Worms, a horse’s snout,
A feline tail.
On barrels of human hands and tufts of hair
You have fed. On sparrows, on stars and smoke,
On trees, like a woodpecker,
On iron, like rust.
And in the yard they cut a man’s throat with no knife,
A voice leaks out of the steaming wound.
It sings of a mustard seed and a crumb of bread,
Of the soul of blood.
Under the weak northern lights
The sky walks on tumours.
The blockade eats up
The soul, like a wolf eats his paw in a snare,
Like a fish eats a worm,
Like bottomless wisdom eats words . . .
O, return all those carried far away
In the body of the flabby truck,
Jingling, like frozen firewood.
Good Friday. Empty, hungry church.
The Deacon’s voice desiccated, he is barely alive,
Echoing shadows bring in the shroud –
The Priest rocks back his head:
“O, now I have seen, I have grasped –
You awoke from sick death,
And cannot recover, it’s ruin for us all.”
My blood becomes icy wine,
Ouroboros bites through his tail.
Teeth are scattered in the sky
In place of cruel stars.
Translated by James McGavran
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- Paper, The
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