Three Poems by Anna Malihon

3.

She was a complete scatterbrain

Everything she held fell from her hands

And she had a memory like a butterfly’s

A thought in, a thought out.

She only remembered the path to work and back well

It was as if she had grown up there herself – in her own greenhouse

There she would never forget them – the azaleas, orchids, Chinese fici, and also –

The cypresses and violets, her beautiful children, she adopted their language

That’s why she was usually silent

Hey you, cried a gypsy boy with a jaw harp up his sleeve – redhead, buy some music, it’s classic

I’ll let you have it at a bargain price,

Do you hear me, red head…

She turned around, looked unblinking into his eyes and he moved away.

She took out her notebook, where she carefully wrote down the names of the stars

Everyday new and different stars, in the morning she learned them, by evening she forgot them

She ran to the flowers again, not waiting for them to grow, again her gypsy boy with the jaw harp teased

You somehow had the opportunity to be a dancer in another world…

“Well, they won’t value you there – they told her!

It’s enough for you to pull your weeds!”

“Where? And who will replant the cactuses? And the lemons will become entangled?

Until then I have the inclination to dance…”

She would have lived happily this way, but suddenly she lost her journal…

And the stars chaotically scattered, not one was caught in the sieve of memory…

They left cold splashes on remaining timid hopes

Someone likes you, the red butterfly in the greenhouse

She holds a place for you there, up high

And you will still shine to yours

The jaw harp trembles strangely, as if the musician

Has learned something…

 

5.

The unopened fist of a tulip

In a Pepsi bottle

Grew still, won’t give away

Its secret light to anyone…

Like the way someone plucked us before our blossoming,

Lost, resold, forgotten at stations

And we now are in different rooms, buildings, cities.

Writing the same fate,

Lit with an inner light.

I have a tulip in a bottle,

You have a rose in a jar

We are girls glamorous or plain

Flashes of curtailed dances

In night hallways

Not able to end this unbroken shared eternal destiny.

Remember, you promised me..?

The long shadow of a young stem…

Falls across the sleepy glass

At the same time the agate moon reveals

The cemetery of possibilities

The lovers grew tired, ate, and drank everything, and left

No one will take the flowers after them…

And I crushed you and won’t tell anyone.

 

***

Don't warm me, puppy. I won't get up.

Sand blew fog approached

on the right – the one who was my captain

on the left – the enemy with the son of God's face.

And life is a piece of paper with a simple code

an obscure sign near the entrance…

An umbilical chord, puppy, is like guilt.

 

So run, while you're still alive, while you still can, --

a new day will come and for you crumbs.

People are lethal to people, don't get used to them,

and run through three worlds to my mother…

She protected so – against chill or virus, God forbid,

she covered us at night, knitted sweaters to grow into.

But in the trenches it's cold – and everything is covered in fog.

 

Look, there was once a Person – now there are bones.

A messenger for everyone – a black bird…

You sigh, creature, it's really difficult

and also difficult for me to laugh…

What is life? A novella. A theme for a poem.

None of them know about gap years

or about volunteers and it's hard

after lessons to achieve wisdom.

 

Don't warm me, puppy. Run to your love, to the west.

It knows my scent better than you.

It puts on my tie like a noose

and ravenously, madly smokes for me.

The city is sprinkled with secrets, shadows grow.

It promises to bathe spring in chestnut foam,

if only from now on

it ceased to believe and to love.

 

Sometime our successors will gather here

bringing our thawed-out memories.

The dog grass-nettle will grow above the trenches,

the echo rolling across Europe.

Anna Malihon is the winner of several prominent literary awards and the author of the collections Doorbell (2003), Blood Transfusion (2012), Abandoned Ships (2012), First Rain (2013), Burnt Skin (2016), and the novel Teach Me How To Do This (2013). She also published a children’s book, Carolina’s Magical Album (2015). She has been translated into Russian, Bulgarian, Polish, Czech, Georgian, Romanian, English, French, and Spanish.

 Translated by Olena Jennings