by Yuri Andrukhovych, 1989

we search for the most esoteric knowledge
climb ladders to reach the highest sections in the stacks
rummage through the shelves with spiders
raising clouds of dust
that hover near the ceiling
we hold our breath and
barely keep our balance
like aerialists
as we dive into the thickest tomes
without the slightest hope of ever emerging
books swallow us up like the sea
we grab onto carved overhangs
and somehow manage to stay afloat
then when we lose our strength
breathless and covered with plaster
we seem to find
in the thicket of leather bindings and hard-covers
pressed against the wall
the small warm
of a simple swallow

translated from the Ukrainian by Virlana Tkacz & Wanda Phipps

and2.doc 9/28/07

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