Three poems by Andrey Gritsman – in Trafika Europe Corner II.6 by Andrew Singer

To accompany our issue Trafika Europe 13 – Russian Ballet, we’re pleased to present a series of Trafika Europe Corner columns featuring poetry from several Russians that didn’t make it into our journal.

Our first is Andrey Gritsman, a Moscow native who emigrated to the US in 1981. He is a physician, poet and essayist and has published seven volumes of poetry and essays in Russian. He received the 2009 Pushcart Prize Honorable Mention XXIII and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize several times between 2005 and 2008.

His poems, essays, and short stories in English have appeared in over eighty literary journals and have been anthologized. His latest forthcoming volumes are Family Chronicles (Poetry) and Stranger at Home (essays and short prose).

He also edits the international poetry magazine in Russian http://magazines.russ.ru/interpoezia/ (in Russian language) and hosts the Intercultural Poetry Reading Series at Cornelia Street Café in New York City.

Here are three poems by Andrey Gritsman.

 

 

CROSSING THE LINE

 

The world was glistening inside my soft universe

in the filigreed web of warmth,

pulsating and feeding my unborn hopes,

tentacles of attachments, frustrations, death.

 

I could have been a father, a sister,

carpenter, savior, the judge, an executioner.

My actuarial survival

was not yet registered.

The winds of unknowing

caressed my mother’s skin.

And the pain was vanishing

 

because I did not exist anymore.

I was not accounted for.

And still, brothers and sisters,

we were bonded and floating together

in the shared hardship.

For only you could appreciate

my gift to you:

my silent grace, the gentle beauty, dignity

and what I would not have done to the world.

 

And remember, there are others

for whom not only I

but also you

are a mistake.

 

 

TWO STONES

for M.D.

 

Two stones

on two distant coasts.

Coastal life variable, escaping.

Steel light in the morning

hint of moss in the air.

Smell of distant fisheries

abandoned.

Seven potato dishes on the menu.

All is not what it seems.

We both know that—

occupational malaise.

 

I lost you as we lose

everything eventually moving away

into the open sea

seemingly motionless

from the distance,

passing through nobody’s waters,

no knowledge predicted.

Love, still barely visible

far away, the only

thing real

in the primordial chaos.

 

 

YELABUGA

for Marina Tsvetaeva

 

Flood of Kama River, Volga, Toima, thousands of lakes

beyond horizon all the way

to Nizhnevartovsk, suffocating smoke

of chemical monster, dinosaur skeletons of oil refineries,

the cradle of relentless growth of cancerous tissue,

swamp of alcohol.

 

Once the barrier to the onslaught of advancing chords of Tamerlane,

gray encampments, fortresses, ravines

full of bones, and yet

crisp, orderly merchants’ town: straight prospects, gated storefronts,

onion heads of churches by the cliff

over the waters. Day and night the evil spirits still hover

over the floodwaters. Pagan idols entombed in scorched earth.

 

The shadows of perished still palpable in the twilight:

Marina, Marina, Osip, Marina.

Yelabuga, Kama, Volga,

Asian watershed. Eastern winds

break cemetery trees between cross-less

gravestones.

 

Long, desolate street,

blind windows, lone hound barks.

Street, where Marina’s sister Anastasia

walked alone up this street in the early sixties

to the graveyard to look

for Marina’s unmarked grave.

 

 

***

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Our latest issue Trafika Europe 13 – Russian Ballet is free online.

Read ELNet’s Trafika Corner II.1, Trafika Corner II.2, Trafika Corner II.3, Trafika Corner II.4 and Trafika Corner II.5.

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