Poetry reading by Uche Anaekwe
When you are dying,
the electric snow of oblivion
falls slowly on the soft apricot pores
of the brain that is growing cold.
The snowfall waltzes,
silent, subdued; the snow covers
the misshapen statues of your ego in your inner garden,
and the scared postman at the gate.
Each snowflake, huge, light blue, is your distorted self-portrait.
Like a thin piece of blotting paper, it melts on your dry hands.
There’s no you anymore,
but you go on jumping on the skipping rope of me-me-me-me,
already listless, out of the unsteady inertia of existence,
like an armless boxer.
You grab with your teeth the rusty chain of hope,
but then notice that the chain resembles a leash,
but no one holds it, no one at all.
It’s a look from the temporal nowhere,
from the space where naked ideas, silvery clots of terror,
finger the globular bones of planets,
seeking for a pink substance.
You are not looking for answers,
standing on the shore of memory,
and your memories are tadpoles of worlds;
the frozen waves are your past days:
look, here’s you who found Elvis Presley’s glasses
and jumped into the waves in them,
like a St. Bernard dog,
to make your beloved woman laugh;
and look, here…
When you are dying, your brain
still doesn’t believe that it’s the end of the road.
It still grows new plot lines,
like earthworms cut in half,
but they have nowhere to crawl.
Even now, the mind is trying to grow out of itself
like a picture that is growing out of its frame,
trying to touch the wallpaper.
There’s a possibility that after death, a wonderful
lottery of incarnations may await us,
that you can find yourself in hell, in paradise, in nowhere, or that
both hell and paradise require a complex nervous system,
to feel the endless pain or eternal bliss,
and neither of the dead ends is even one bit attractive for a flying soul
powered by God’s shadow, imagination.
It’s so easy, so monumental to think ahead
about what happens when you won’t be able to think ahead,
but you never die because,
because snails leave trails on statues.
I feel and think,
therefore, I am,
therefore, one of us exists: either me, writing these words,
or you, reading them.
(translated by Sergey Gerasimov from Russian)
is a poet from Ukraine. His most recent poems have appeared in Rattle, The Nation, Prairie Schooner, The London Magazine, Guernica, Denver Quarterly, Pleiades and many others. A Pushcart Prize nominee, he is also the author of The Red Fоrest (Fowlpox Press, 2018). His poems have been awarded RHINO 2022 Translation Prize. He lives in Kharkov, Ukraine.