Twenty-first Century Russian Poetry


Irina Maximova


Translated by Maria Khotimsky

One can also define the past through photographs:
Photographs capture the moments of hope.

People are walking hand in hand,
we think they are - a couple  
or that they are - happy.

On some photographs 
things exist that have never happened,
and that which will never be
looks like the past.

These unfortunate photographs
can be hidden from future wives.

Because we are all - alive,
and we are all - people,
and no one is here to protect us. 
Unseen by each other.

* * *

Marta and Martin
were childhood friends. 
Marta's father was an émigré called Misha,
but that doesn't matter anymore. 
Marta and Martin never wrote their names
on the walls: 
they were childhood friends, 
but lived in a different country. 

Martin's parents 
had an apartment with a balcony;
a geranium, red, menstrual,
grew there reflected in the glass,
and he took great care of it.
He knew about its seeds.

Martin worked in a stockroom.
Marta sold flowers. 
Somehow they made ends meet. 
Southern Germany, more precisely, Bavaria.

Martin rebuked Marta for her lack of 
and spoke about her parents,   
more precisely  - "you -
are a half-blood, you don't

So they got a cat.
Actually, a female.

Martin found her on the street,
by a bus stop:
she was shivering with cold
in a phone booth. 
Unusually for the season
snow was falling, 
slow and senseless,
it melted the next day.

Marta was sick, she covered herself with three blankets:
"It's yours, it's alive", 
whispered Marta:  
Martin wasn't her first.

Dreaming, she saw the cat
dying in Martin's hands, 
dying in her hands.  

"Who do you think you are?" 
Martin would ask,
driving Marta out of paradise.

"No one," Marta always agreed. 
Martin wasn't her first. 

Early morning in Southern Bavaria.
Martha is dressed in a fur coat,
Faux fur. 
There's no bus to Munich.
Marta is different now.

* * *

The distance sinks even lower, at the horizon
it stands like water,
Reflected in its surface, a crane stands
starkly naked.

Here is a paper airplane six-winged
like a seraph.
This autumn, o god's masha,
this azure. 

A time when he would for her,
when you might.

A snail is crawling from Lisbon,
carrying flowers. 					

* * *

The sea shore crumbles,
a steep slope.
The feverweed is dry,
 the sand yellow. 
Screaming loudly
is forbidden only in the mountains, 
snow is even finer,
much finer than sand.
Who else is to blame besides you?

Here a spider web trembles in the air,
and smells of pine.
Sunshine glistens
in the dewdrops, and you
how do you imagine summer?  
Salty sea waters
won't cure thirst, 
and the face cannot be cleared of tears. 

* * *

And look, you're going down into hell. 
The first step, and a circle ripples out, raising 
your innermost essence from the bottom. 

In this moment you say: 
"This isn't me, not me.
It's time moving through and whistling,
and the truth-light scorches so  
that I burn .

So would anyone burn,"-
I console myself.