by Serhiy Zhadan, 2004

…not to wake her up,
carefully stepping over the things she left
books and clothes, fragments of a May night
warm as the air; stepping over these in the silence
where walls, windows, stairways, and stagnant darkness
settle in the dregs;
stepping closer to the wet, fresh shutters,
where the solitude of plants and trees begins,
                     warmed by their own growth,
hearths of homes heated by the breath of entire provinces,
the breath of a country, a hot May night on the plains,
deep viscous ground actively expanding
towards its surface;
stepping over the grass, you feel how much the planets strain
to stay in balance as they stream past you,
the entire atmosphere, which accompanies you,
all the darkness of the world, the order of all things
the measure and imperceptible drift of the objects
inside themselves, your moment expands,
but not enough, to encompass
this parting in May and the alarming heat of the factories.

To begin from a different place each time,
to emerge every time from the black nothingness towards voices
and the breath of those you share life with
touching all the scars and veins on the body of your country,
all the bends in the twigs that keep their balance,
touching the warm air currents that spread over you,
washing out dreams from hearts,
so that by morning she no longer remembers
what she dreamt that night.

Light spilling from atom to atom,
straightening the roots and the stems that give them height,
dragging the slippery sap filled with bitterness
along the railroad tracks, pulling along
swallows and insects, chimneys and antennae –
the trees reach with their bodies toward those places,
where our atmosphere breaks off
and where nothingness begins,
almost reaching that point where twilight appears,
where only silence is strewn and rain forms.
And before crossing that boundary, before landing on the other side of air,
before finally untangling themselves from the dense May background
they suddenly think that even the smallest motion,
the smallest shudder of a wet twig will not go unpunished,
for stirring up the air, displacing space
and awakening her from her dream.
This is what stops them…

translated from the Ukrainian by Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps

zhad2-2.doc 1/20/07

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