Twenty-first Century Russian Poetry


Irina Mashinski


To the Border

Translated by Tony Brinkley and the author

               For G.Kruzhkov

              November, bride in a glass casket.
Seed spill   
from the entrance-toward the light-outside!
A careful step-here, there-boot toe 
touching cautiously 
the mica of this brittle puddle. 

             Quiet! Approaching the border!  
This border-in exquisite mist!  
An elm-branch - that is so familiar! - hangs like a fruit-drop
the eyes' crystal breaks oblique light-rays
like spokes- 

 	so like a glider-arms stretched out-across the convex 
of the ironed surface of blank ice  
the slow pedestrian plane slips cautiously, 
clouds rush in under him 
like children, and the border 
closes, shallows 
creased dove-blue.  

Translated by the author

In Jugendstil.Braunau Am Inn*

  					   A golden cloud
				           on baby Hitler's chest
				        Laced  curtain 
				     far away -
                                                                    where that light is - bright
				      the world outside cambers  and curves
			                            towards the East -
					  Breeze - and  the curtain
                                                                                     flies away, then suddenly steps in           
				             leaning on the window sill  
						 - like Mutter, 
					                      strokes unrippled blanket with her  
                                                                                                           scarlet     satin    palm.
						             Late  April trembles on the
					                               wallpaper, sweeps  
                                                                                                              to the door in one move 
						            - like pictures in the magic lantern  - 
                                                                                                              its greenish patterns.
						           Sleep!  little sheep 
				                                        sing their quiet Donna, donna 
						         look how they amble
						         down. Sleep, 
						         Klimt shines in gilded windows,
						          and Beardsley's  railing	  						             		
				                            snakes and meanders on 									
                                                                                shows through the golden gaps
                                                                                      of Good, 
                                                                                     and  healthy evening  Sun
					                     plays like a radio
                                                                                its wired waltzes.

Like a Year Ago. Niantic Bay

Boris Ryzhyj, a Russian poet from the Ural town of Yekaterininburg, committed suicide in 2001 at the age of 27. Ryzhyj in Russian means red-haired; in provincial slang - substitutes for gold (or false gold).

        The name of an Indian river,
    this salty mouth, 
      this bridge    at night:
  trembling  lights,
      a chain of false gold

  on the youth's neck 
     in a  hopeless provincial town  
in Russia.  In the morning, the bridge is invisible.
  Lights are off.
         Last year at this time, on the other
               side of the sound 
           Marina was dying, and  only a fall

remained for Sasha. 
       Dawn,  high tide
    moving inland;
      the quiet grove comes right to the water,
           touches it with a toe.

Dawn, alone in the house not mine, I dream air,
      from the windows thrown open,
   the empty outskirts of a Russian
town N,
a line of a poem - 
              line just uttered
no one's. 


...counts her beads of trifles,
slips of tongue, quick glances,
having tortured millions
of crumpled petals, anguishing 
from encounters, for one year watching 
from the four corners, having not uttered
	even two words...

The Discovery

	He returned from the backyard 
                          and went back to bed, 
                             his feet still cold 
                                    from the night grass.

		Lighter than the room, 
	than the sheets,
was the narrow
 slit between the curtains,

and my hand 
    blind with pity,  
       flew up, 
                    light, uncertain -

reaching for 
                     the dark-haired head
              that still smelled of tobacco