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from the September 2009 issue

The Siblings’ Watch

He walked, a flame before him,
It seemed to have appeared behind one shoulder, then the other,
There were not many people, there was no sun, before the demolition
Of the house they stood the day before Pokrov,
Sent circles out
And came forth from the Earth
Before the face of those left without a roof.

Last time they crossed by paths made up of smoke
From house to house, to sit in attic windows
Knee deep in shit, around the corners inaccessible by Earth,
With one's own bottom feel the cooling of the roofs,
And see the incandescent lamps in the pale rooms,
And spit upon the neighbors from above.

Last time, stretching out the window,
Watching the parade below—the courtyard, watching the bobber—
Perhaps someone is biting, and, having torn out the bell at the hair's roots
Where like a scarecrow the ship was trapped
Counting, how many steps, counting the measures with one's head,
As the change pours down from the purse, drops,

Lipstick, mirror, condoms, medallion—
Everything meticulously cataloged; and when the commode is opened,
The trolley's distant howl
And the man inside his deafening apartment
Will reflect like a noxious dew,
When the watch is changed to Moscow time—
They peer inside like dried fish,—
He may want to leave for the afterlife.

Your friend sits on a pile of things,
As if a yellow star were on his chest,
Has anyone arrived, or brought some notice,
As if waiting for the command: "disperse,"
Like shoes on different feet amid
The deserted square, the lights are lit
Over their heads and now we understand all language,
Be so kind as to light a match, give us some light,
First "footprints", "an unwashed stain", "your job"? —
But in the house a breeze develops,
The watches look, their craws cannot be seen,
A pair of round faced fools

From under the glass fatigue develops
With one leg standing on the stomach
There are two concerns: a jabot is needed, the coat doesn't fit
And the ceiling might come down like a wave;
They watch . . .

They soon will age, and walk without their things,
How to divide inheritance between the twins?!
Where do the folks with ailing thyroids look?
Where should they place their glances?—
Above the barriers and the plywood shields,
Along wallpapered streets and the sidewalk's borders
It is impossible not to be astounded in the end,—
Under the steadfast eye, like a crucifix around the neck,
In public space, or in our separate rooms
A murder was committed on the final day

Translation of "Chasiki Dvukh Pogodkov." Copyright Viktor Ivaniv. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2009 by Peter Golub. All rights reserved.

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