Twenty-first Century Russian Poetry


Andrey Gritsman


Magritte: Dominion of Light

First comes the light, being 
the aperture of dark as the evening

stays still. One can guess 
the trajectory of the night beings

invisible, almost insensible. 
The brush-stroke precision makes them blend

with what forever waits behind two lit windows. 
Trees at the front are dark arrows

grown from the unimaginable into the painting's 
essence, which will last as long as it

allows one not only to see, but to breathe it in. 
Even afterwards, this will remain 

a glass, infinitely transparent. The orderly facade implies 
some sturdy settled household. The trees

are well-tended but not trimmed. Beyond the fence, 
there is a garden, perennially rustling.

One cannot hear a sound, feel a movement; yet 
one knows there must be a sound, since the light

and a sound are reflections of the same. 
There is no street sign, number, or a name.

Only the signs of a human omniabsence:
little silent pond, part of a bay, or else

a strait, that harbors quiet boats beyond the frame. 
It feels as if an opaque story of a family

nests behind the house, in the garden 
that is the insects' paradise, the world of tireless rodents.

Vestiges of life are stirring in the back rooms. 
The walls hold reflections of the perpetuating shadows,

not moving anymore, but paused in their domestic eternity:
holding a teacup, a knife, someone's hand stretched in

an attempt to reach for something, 
that it will never reach. The only link

between the objects is the sky, as unassuming 
as the sky could be in its generously aimless

evening lightness. Its axis is the streetlamp-
a counterpoise and the foundation of an ample-

ness of the void. We try to leave 
it in the self-saving and comforting oblivion,

as we turn away from the visage of petrification, 
from the move into a motionlessness.

There canvas echoes passion of suppression. This is a dominion 
of light, the world where everyone is gone.