Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2017  Vol. 16 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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translation from Ukrainian by Alan Zhukovski

Year’s Middle

Iron blades cut through the sand and heavy coal,
entangled in forest roots—chain-link by chain-link,
the hot middle of the year is assembled
and baked in the kiln of the boiling sun;
the cores of the links grow together.

At the very bottom, between June and July,
you’ll see how lindens and drivers’ cabs stand still in the dark,
in the quiet urban side streets with their tiny groceries,
and then you’ll walk through the flimsy interseason,
which, after momentary vacillation, can throw you
to any side;
there are always two roads
from this deepest hollow, and having easily swung your body,
you can move against the stream
and break through to the winter and the sources,
when everything didn’t seem so inalienable,
when you could change everything;

someone covers the channels of your oblivion
with odorous waterweed,
stones and smoke,
and you try to catch those fumes
inside yourself
till you reach unconsciousness.

Year’s middle is a river in lowlands, right before its delta,
when the alien, stirring, and briny
smell of different water forces its way up the riverbed,
to fill the pores of the alien moisture;
if you want, you can also
feel these gelid streams from your future
and foresee what’s there, behind the nearest hills;
you can peep into the realms where all navigation vanishes
and wounds open, from silence, on apples,
where nothing dares to begin
without your presence.  

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