by Oksana Zabuzhko, 1990

I know I will die a difficult death --
Like anyone who loves the precise music of her own body,
Who knows how to easily thread it through the eye of fear
As through a needle,
Who dances a lifetime with that body -- so that each move
Of shoulders, back and thighs glimmers
With the mystery of ancient meaning like a word in Sanskrit
And muscles play under the skin like fish --
Thank you, Lord, for this body!
When I die, tell the carpenters
To take off the roof
(because they say,
my great grandfather, a sorcerer, went that way.)
So when my body turns soft,
Gushy like a boiled egg,
A bloated soul, dark and bulging,
Will jut out
And the body will convulse
Like a stifling blanket
a sick man battles with,
But my soul will push through
The weight of the body, the curse of gravity --
and then
As falling stars light up the sky
The Cosmos
Will suck up my soul
Through its galactic pipe
Like a crumpled sheet of paper.
Oh soul, so young,
Green like wet leaves,
To freedom --
But at the moment of release,
it screams -- "Stop!"
At the instant on the knife's edge
Between two worlds --
"Stop. Halt.
Here is the place
of Poetry. Oh, Lord..."

For the last time fingers reach out for a pen,
Growing cold, becoming no longer mine...

translated from the Ukrainian by Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps

zab5.doc 10/22/92

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