The wind pales… by Alexander Ulanov (translated by Alexander Cigale)




1. The wind pales after the fire, when it comes to its senses from the hills. It has two sides – a stoney one and a watery one. The rain stands nearby and tastes the razory air with its tongue. The eyes are turned inward, and the shrub beats a drum. The east is tightly strung, it knows no west, and there is nowhere to place a pitcher on the bulldozed town square. The night may come – in the form of a Cretan column, expanding upward. At the birch’s ankles – a snake, the one that is lighter than the spring’s first sproutings.

2. With a one-eyed quill, of the age-old rain, of avian fidelity, with a northern voice. The milky-eyed tales of fishes, the theft of skin, and the burn-in-the throat of forgiveness. One asks the threshold about the street, the field – of the town. How is it possible not to love leaves, butterflies, clouds. Time lives behind doors in rooms, but a year – is not a time, it is a marker of memory. A flickering flame claims for itself only the face, leaving the rest in the warmth of darkness. What confers a point its existence – without length, without width – is the painfulness of its puncture. How can one possibly depict emptiness? A white page – is not emptiness, it is a white page. A person dies, and the thread strung by him slackens.

3. One desires once in a while to dwell in a denser and less transparent medium, to move through it with arms a-breaststroke. The air is far too vacant.

The night is carried in gingerly, on finger tips; they learn it patiently, like playing the flute. But the eyelashes are longer than the night, the soft hazel wood of a red-lipped snake. When the two make contact, fireflies materialize.

Afterward, you stare in a puddle – and reflected there is a Gothic cathedral and a tree, that are nowhere nearby in reality. Of you yourself, there is no reflection.


* * *
1. Ветер бледнеет после огня, когда он очнется от холмов. У него две стороны – каменная и водяная. Рядом стоит дождь и пробует воздух-нож языком. Глаза повернуты внутрь, и куст бьет в барабан. Туго натянут восток, нет ему запада, и на сломленной площади некуда поставить кувшин. Может случиться ночь – критской колонной, расширяющейся вверх. У щиколоток березы – змея, та, что легче первых весенних листьев.

2. Одноглазым пером, северным голосом о старости дождя, птичьей верности. Белоглазые рыбьи сказки, кража кожи и ожог прощенья. Об улице спрашивают у двери, о городе – у поля. Как можно не любить листья, бабочек, облака. Время живет за дверями комнат, но год – это не время, а метка памяти. Маленький огонек берет себе только лицо, оставляя остальное теплой тьме. Что проявляет точку, у которой ни длины, ни ширины – боль укола. Как нарисовать пустоту? Белый лист – это не пустота, это белый лист. Человек умирает, и провисает натянутая им нить.

Хочется иногда быть в более плотной и менее прозрачной среде, идти, раздвигая ее руками. Воздух все-таки слишком пуст.

Ночь вносят на кончиках пальцев, ее долго учат, игру на флейте. А ресницы длиннее ночи, легкое карее дерево красногубой змеи. От прикосновений появляются светлячки.

Потом на улице смотришь в лужу – а там отражаются готический собор или дерево, которых рядом нет. И не отражаешься ты сам.




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.