Translation Donna Stonecipher
My Private Leningrad
The secret pleasure in self-erasure
goes with those places where you can’t go
to the beach without taking a plane, and strewn sand
crunches under your heels.
Dimmed sky. Blockade. For days
the facades have been bombarded by gray light.
The tendency to the horizontal while standing
doubles the live weight sitting.
Gravitational mastery. Who falls?
Who falls first? Whoever falls
will be helped by
Northern severity over hills of prefab apartments.
The hieroglyphs sprayed the night before
(The History of My Puberty, Part 12)
fade under a storm of water crystals.
Only outlines and windows can be seen –
an overexposed snapshot.
Inside you sense the dark wood of the built-in closet,
circulating heat, entanglements.
In front of the entrance a skinned cat hangs on the landing
(must have been the Vietnamese).
A man floats in the room with an uplifted index finger.
You’ve met him before.
You can take off your clothes now, darling.
Stiff fingers of pylons claw at the earth.
Not far from the high road the sun disappears
in red. Your switch at the ready, you cross
the unfruitful fields. Your inner enemy
surveys his hands in a dream. You are targeted.
No TV picture. No animal to whom you confess.
Your hair is growing. Your nails are growing.
The train tracks cross in the dark.
your toes in the snowdrifts of the bed
like orphaned farm children
on the windowsill the little Pinocchio
that I brought you from Rome
press on his pedestal, he falls apart
release it, he stands back up weirdly bent
this inexplicable desire, in the middle of your sentence
to ram a fork in your eye
today we’ll go to a museum