Among the houses… by Alexander Ulanov (translated by Alexander Cigale)



* * *
Among the houses, the sluggish fish glide by. They peek inside the windows slowly stirring their flabby lips. At night, they sometimes flock to the light of a lamp. Were the light switched off, for a long while you would still continue to sense them there, in the darkness. They never swim inside and enter the rooms. They feed on fallen leaves, which is why they are most numerous in autumn, but toward December, when snow begins to fall, almost no leaves remain on the earth. Black, brown, gray, the fish brush against each other with their velvety flanks. They have no reason to speak.

And on the hanger in the closet lives Pushkin, behind the radiator – Gogol, — in the bathtub, a giant hirsute coconut. It dreams of floating up to the Himalayas, but not even Dostoevsky, stuck in the toolbox, can offer it help in this. From time to time, from behind the couch, a critter proturburates, grunting pawfully; pulchritudinously, it ululates gruelly. Over and over, you prattle: “My lure-aloo, my nibble-nob, my ragamuffin,” and again approach the window.

Among the houses, the sluggish fish glide by.

* * *
Между домов проплывают медленные рыбы. Они заглядывают в окна и шевелят мягкими губами. Ночью они иногда сплываются на свет лампы. Если повернуть выключатель, они еще долго чувствуются там, в темноте. В комнаты никогда не заплывают. Их корм – опавшие листья, вот почему рыб больше всего осенью, а к декабрю, когда начинается снег, листьев на земле почти не остается. Черные, коричневые, серые, рыбы гладят друг друга бархатными боками. Им незачем разговаривать.

А на вешалке живет Пушкин, за батареей – Гоголь, в ванной – большой мохнатый кокосовый орех. Он мечтает доплыть до Гималаев, но даже Достоевский из ящика с инструментами не может помочь ему. Иногда из-за дивана хмозенует кульгавый хмыз, гро лапоулится ю олулеет бурдано. Ты повторяешь: “Милейко, почайка, варушка”,– и снова подходишь к окну.

Между домов проплывают медленные рыбы.





Alexander Ulanov (1963) lives in Samara and works at Samara State Aerospace University. His books of poetry are Wind Direction (1990), Dry Light (1993), Waves and Ladders (1997), Displacements + (2007), Methods of Seeing (2012), and the book of prose Between We (2006). He has written more than 350 articles and book reviews about contemporary literature. He received the Andrey Bely prize for his criticism (2009) and was short-listed in the prose category in 2007, the same year he was a CEC ArtsLink Fellow at the IWP in Iowa. He is also himself a translator, of contemporary American poets, Dylan Thomas, and Paul Valery. Alex Cigale’s other translations of Ulanov’s prose poems have appeared in Big Bridge, The Manhattan Review, Plume, and Washington Square Review. Alex Cigale’s own English-language poems have appeared in Colorado, Green Mountains, North American, Tampa, and The Literary Reviews, and online in Drunken Boat and McSweeney’s. His translations from the Russian can be found in Cimarron Review, Inventory, Literary Imagination, Modern Poetry in Translation, New England Review, PEN America, Two Lines, and World Literature Today. He is on the editorial boards of Asymptote, COEUR journal, Mad Hatters’ Review, St. Petersburg Review, and Verse Junkies. From 2011 until 2013, he was an Assistant Professor at the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.