Timur Novikov, Fontanka River, oil on canvas, 28 × 40 inches.
But not an Elegy
The animal smoke huddles in the neolithic burrows of the night.
Comprehension is confined between the brackets of the eyes, nibbling
and the brain is like a mouse in a labyrinth.
You see what you see.
The world lies low. And you are only a hunted beast,
across the crackling nap of sound
You will be trapped.
The trash pits have lost the secret power to stop entropy,
as a poultice of chewed nettles stops the flow of blood,
or singing stops the raving of the mad.
Two or three degrees ago
on the centigrade scale, the pieces were already parting (severing ties)
longing for wholeness,
For disintegration as if it were a meeting …
Where does the column of heat come from?
The sun falls directly on the slope of the roof.
It is resurrection and resurrection again.
Now even a corpse must be as hard as a star
And as invulnerable, too, in subterranean lakes—not dreadful,
As a gun is not dreadful nor the glowing column
of tranquil fire,
Were charred vessels of of crows
Diminish behind the thumbnail of the visible,
Living half as the eye of the Arctic and half as myself,
stamping a red clump of wormwood into the snow.
So we discover the structure of the sky—measuring ourselves
against the moon;
Inheriting the kingdom by right of primogeniture
You shake the dead mouse out of the labyrinth,
Out of the parallels,
The animal smoke, out of what you see
and what is seen.
(from the poetic)
The idiotic shed of frost is slush, faded,
The solar cowl of the rose is white as damp plaster.
Brother wolf with his ravenous belly is foraging through thickets,
Along the ravines and in the sparse brush,
Relentlessly baring his teeth at himself in the fog,
Ears laid back against his scalp, rushing about in his mangy skin,
Squinting an eye at the moon in the black gullies,
Staring straight at a plaster doll in the gold …
In only a stinking Tatar!
Oh, how thin and mournful the whining of the stubble on the hillside—
If only a venerable old man would cross his path,
He wouldn’t insult him with help, he would just rip open his throat.
He sheds clumps of fur, chokes on crusts of foam,
Wretched with his yellow fang in the tints of marvelous smoke—
It’s not the moon that splashes icy water into his jaws,
It’s not a pestilent star that scratches his heart like a sister—
Ripping his paws to the bone on the crust of diamondlike snow,
Night and day,
day and night bending into one bow,
The younger brother, recalling little Prince Ivan, gallops
Straight into the white sun—
Look, what he got into his head, the cur!
Elegy to a Dream on the 5th of February
A dream -that’s “four.”
Voices uttering: “Four features henceforth will grow black
on the worm-riddled page
the scroll of numbers.”
The full moon is fitted into the “four,”
Translucence like a cellophane shell bulging around a locked
room. The globe.
By itself the dream isn’t significant. A thief.
Voices uttering: “the reading lessons won’t last long …
hearing muffled—moat, melting the endings off vowels,
doesn’t prevent our unrolling the alphabet scroll.” The mouth.
Only for an instant the corners relax—narrow
in the fascinating obscurity of hearing,
in the two lines, repeated in two windows, stark white.
The corners are thin like a closing wound.
The corners are sharp—the dog-star Sirius drawn from a well,
Moisture is simple at points if intersection, in the live cavities of rhyme
But voices uttering in unison—that’s “four,”
This is the refraction of a fissure, behind it the mouth
of the intersection’s dark spurt,
But in order to lose oneself there, to assume the form of a docile dream,
One must broach the thought that its shores can’t be reached.
The labor of the hand’s sensation, mute. Then a second hand
Again the one that was before this in the austerity of intersections
Where—for me and the voices uttering.
Cinnabar familiar with the sky.
From here the winds form a close ring.
The sky abandons speech.
Seated around the table’s husk were all whom the brain was absorbing,
to draw themselves up in different configurations. There
was not a single thing that couldn’t be named: “light”
Or “four,” it doesn’t matter,
When you bend around the dream, a body of glass, or a track.
For them it was
a second, third, fourth, not forming