I came home from the war today, but no one noticed me.
Probably because I didn’t bring any pictures.
I wanted to say that, but it turned out I didn’t know how.
Behind my back, birds were chirping, puppies and kittens were squeaking,
and other animals, too, and I had to shoot forward
just to keep them quiet. My back sprawled as if the
the field stood upright and the sky washed over it. And so now
I understand only bird and beast languages,
in them I tell everything that did not have time to be in the pictures.
I came from the war and wanted to embrace my daughter, my mother and father,
while my husband turned into a big iron bird
and stayed in the sky,
and now I can feel the sky
caressing my back and kissing
my husband’s lips.
Grandma, the bird is singing somewhere near, and the kitten
meows, let’s take him, says my daughter to my mother.
How are we going to take it, we only have three walls and a gas
stove on which I warm bread for the three of us.
Grandpa, I beg you, let’s take the kitten
and let’s give the bird a shelter.
How will we take the bird, my little one,
she will fly away and there’s not a single tree around.
And the kitten will fall, for we do not have the fourth wall.
I came home from the war today and didn’t know how to tell them.
* * *
If I hear a whisper
from one country through another
and across the country
I hear a whisper
it makes me
If I avert my eyes
taking a quick picture of how
th-th-th-that which looks like a scream kicking a beast
shriek shrieeeeeeeek shrieeeeeek shrieeeeeek
turn into yours and
if I hear footsteps
on every stairway
of every entrance in which
a life is taken
I hear every step
that carries away a life
it hits me on the head with a swing
if the faces in the photo
a quick glance
all all all the faces swim up
like corpses in rivers
a couple of months later
after I look away
they swim right through me
tearing me through
If I understand everything
Almost almost almost all
don’t talk don’t talk don’t talk
If I can hear better I can see better
Lord, I’m not Your lyrical character
Lord, I am not Your hero.
Lord, I am not Your
All who are alive are dead
Even if they
Or still live
In the form of water for
I’m only moving indiscriminately
To prevent other movements
carrying away taking away
carrying away taking away
carrying away taking away
I’m smiling I’m smiling I’m only smiling
only because my face is distorted
I don’t cry just because
crying is more comfortable, more effective, more therapeutic
fake fake fa-ak-k-ke
I’m not your pain
I don’t have headphones
I don’t have my glasses
I don’t have
* * *
I’m stroking you, Ukraine, on your wet bloody back
with a mussed coat
blood on your tail blood on your paws on your muzzle you blood flows from your nose to your mouth
as though you are a little cat almost a kitten
I saw yesterday in Tbilisi’s courtyard
Eat, eat, kitty
You warm yourself in cellars you lick your wounds
Is your kid brother dead?
You’re trampled on by humans with their screams and soles
by stones of walls kicked by rockets
But when I stroke you
like a big brother thrusting
a tune in your flowerbeds your fur burnt wool
your tangled bloody skin no I’m powerless on the sidelines
standing there blurred by my blinders of memory
forgot where all my loved ones live
I’ve been writing about it I’ve been writing about it
licking the salty letters off my cheeks
but what can I do
if the day is tied to the day
like a harness to a horse
off its wheels and running
running running through the fields, the mountains, the foothills
its bleeding sides, a bleeding muzzle
impossible to stop
Free and wounded free and wounded
how can I get you drunk and fed
my jumping bloody free one
I’m writing about it
I’m repeating myself obscenely like
my dreams that skip over diagnoses
Who’s there or here I can’t wake up can’t wake up
Wake up I can’t fall asleep
Letters come out of my throat spewing vomit.
Beasts don’t cry bleeding
Ukraine in the name of a wound that cannot be stitched.
Metaphors are too intelligent for trouble.
and too bloodless.
I had a dream three months ago about Georgia.
I was talking to its second President Shevardnadze.
He was worried about how to help the country and what to do.
And in the dream I told him to treat it like a stray dog.
I also dreamed of a woman crying, a Jewish woman who lost her dog.
Ask another God, I told her. When you ask them the first time, they do it
But only the first time
Who to ask these days? All the gods have already been asked for
the beasts as for the wounded landscape killed or wounded as
the homeless beasts
I don’t care because no other revelation was given to the world
and you thought the apocalypse was something from Hollywood
no, it’s just pain and decay and the extent of it
stretches the body like a torture chamber to the size of the soul
although everyone has been offered a discounted one
Translated from Russian by Nina Kossman
Poet, translator, essayist, linguist. Born in Tbilisi, graduated from the Faculty of Russian Philology at Tbilisi State University. She has authored poems, essays, articles and translations published in poetry anthologies, periodicals and academic collections in Europe, America and Asia (Georgia, Russia, Israel, USA, Ukraine, England, Poland, Denmark, Belgium, Uzbekistan, etc.) Author and editor of poetry collections in Georgia, in particular co-author and compiler of Russian-language Anthology of Georgian Poetry (10th-20th centuries). Author and presenter of the video project “Frontiers and Borders” at the Center for Cultural Interaction “Caucasian House”, dedicated to both literature and interethnic, multicultural relations. (2013 – 2017). Winner of the Diogenes International Internet Short Film Festival, special diploma for “What Chairs Remember,” 2020. Author of the following books “On the Edge of the Word” (Israel, 2000) and “Frescoes in the Air” (Moscow, 2014).
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