“This dead man lies...”

«Этот человек мёртв» by Maria Galina (original here)

 

1.

 

This dead man lies

on the river bottom

white and green light

settles behind his eyes

a bridge drifts above his face

fuel smolders out in the sky

his brain a pearl

sleeping in its ornate case

In his dream

he stands mid-river

under his bed hides a catfish

a lily blooms in the hand

inverted fire

steams in the river

Placoderm

bobs in a crock

underfoot swings the bridge

past the bridge swings a forest

his time is cut short

from the first to the last stars.

 

2.

 

A fisherman will recognize

his own kind.

They pass around

a bottle of hazy mash.

Only the catfish sheathed

by a crag hears the stories they tell,

and thank God for that.

Parkas sullied with fish scales,

oil, sand,

the buoy swims in place,

the white, green, red flame burns,

one of them lights up, his hand a windbreak —

Ah fuck – he says

Who’s out there?

What’s out there?

 

3.

 

And all around blossoms a garden city,

just as it did thirty thousand years ago,

hairy ferns, Equisetums,

triceratops, Macharoidus, what else –

A man in a cloak,

speaking an extinct language.

Barefeet stand in the sand

a lily blooms in his hand.

***

The Seafarer

«Мореплаватель» by Maria Galina (original here)

Person at the door

 

Ah travelers, why do you seem so gloomy,

and so hesitant to board the brig, or let’s say, the warship,

when will you through the murky thoughts catch

that airy, that golden, greenish light?

 

1st traveler

 

Go home, to a sturdy table and a dish with pierogi,

a child in a crib sleeps sweetly and a weaver spins thread,

and the floors don’t swing beneath strong legs,

and there is nothing more to look or ask for.

 

Person at the door

 

Ah, I would trade in that table and that dish with pierogi —

when a soul flies into the darkness, it doesn’t need, let’s say, a table,

for the wet planks to swing underfoot

and for my sailboat to enter a wondrous distant port.

 

2nd traveler

 

Go home, to your fragmented world, unknown to us,

there a woman glows there by the hearth, like dawn,

and longing does not chase after the triangular trace,

and hungry seas will not swallow the void.

 

Person at the door

 

Why mourn when your sail is catching the wind,

and the kiss of distant stars is more tender than a woman’s,

and the water will one day become a mirror at sunrise,

where a beautiful land will rise and reflect in it.

 

3rd traveler

 

When the soul stalls in drowsy near-death,

before it bolts to the sky from the rigid deck,

it will dream of hearth and smoke, a lamb on the straw,

a child in a crib, a distant bark of a guard dog.

 

Person at the door

 

When the soul stalls in the cold bed,

before it rushes to the distant call from the window,

it will dream of the creak of a ship’s gear, and murk, where hardly

visible, the line of a long-awaited, unfamiliar shore appears.

***

The Kraken

from Tennyson

«Кракен. Из Теннисона» by Maria Galina (original here)

There, the kraken hides in bottomless water

he glows with pale light —and waits,

for the ocean to boil

(and who calls for him to surface

sits higher than kings)

 

Then, terrible, he will rise from the bottom,

and will dance in scarlet waves,

before the light of scarlet stars,

(torpedo bombers depart for

north-northwest)

 

He is the last of his kind

he eats helpless food

and his hands are white

(and he will see the Mugwort Star

among flame and ash)

 

He will slumber in his grave,

until they erase the thread

of the machinery of the heavenly spheres…

(there, the gypsum Pioneer

raises the trumpet to his lips)

***

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