Transitions №5

Author: Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya

Float, Ophelia, float

Float, Ophelia, by narrow channel in fallen leaves
Here the foliage is not taken away
Not like up the road under the trees
On the left side of the rivulet
Float girl, the water is old
Wrinkles run in its depth
And on its surface, there are wet leaves
Of linden maple rowan
A woman in a raspberry coat rakes them away
She removes them all
Once she turns her back
They cover the soil again without breeze
So float Ophelia, by a channel curved in a broken dogleg
If ever a dog was here it disappeared
Float Ophelia, just don’t look at wild ducks
At a young couple wandering by a park holding hands
Don’t look at fallen foliage covering your way
At rosehip still blooming by the sides
With a burgundy scream into the sky
At children playing in the park
At fat ducks fumbling on the shore
At a man walking a terrier
At an apple stub hardly seen among leaves
At sunny paths among the shadows
From pines in knots along the trunks rising to the sky
Don’t look at the sky
And at a cat running by a path catching a mouse or a lizard
Don’t ask him
Ophelia, you float, over the water
In a crevice between the shores
Then inside one
Inside concrete pipes laid under dunes
It’s dark and stuffy there
For so long it’s all the same
Still better than in a coffin
Float underground Ophelia
Under water under sand under concrete
Float more
Mosaic of stones over gray sand
Then float Ophelia
Ahead you
You will see the ocean

meeting an old friend during the pandemic

cleaning takes so much time nowadays
every day
i wash floors with bleach
wipe doors handles and light switches
got three boxes of gloves and anti-bacterial wipes
with isopropyl alcohol
everything is in abundance at home

after expeditions into the outside world for groceries
i wipe everything every pack i bought
put shopping bags for immediate washing
except for fruits and vegetables –
i just rub them with soda or soap
a minute for every fruit
tried boiling water but changed to soda and soap
otherwise their skins turned black
it takes so much time
also i bake cakes bread pasta
i make fruit juices
then wipe the table with a napkin
filled with isopropyl alcohol

everything is here it is so clean and calm
i can calm down
walking with the dog in the park
the sun is shining

what do I miss the most?
live rock concerts
especially with opera voices and cellos
to scream loudly for a long time
you know trains are so quiet here
and planes are so quiet and rarely in the air
the airport is close to empty
nowhere to scream loudly

yesterday i walked the dog along a cliff in the bush
at permissible half an hour drive distance from home
all the more so, there are talks of easing the quarantine
and i remembered an old friend, it was a century
or, more precisely, thirty years we have not seen each other –
but i think about him from time to time
i remember his eyes
and recalled it again when walking along the cliff with the dog –
actually last September i recalled him
and talked about him

i often recalled him – in the uni he was so in love
with another school friend – she was beautiful smart and a strutter
he so suffered from unrequited love
i often recalled him
wanted to know how was he?
has he recovered from that love?
but i never even googled him
have not asked friends about him

well – his life turned out fine
he graduated from the university
had good jobs in his profession
had married had a son
here are bank details
for his friends
to help the family organize his funeral
here is his recent photo
without a beard
looking so sad
the first of close friends lost to pandemia

i have nowhere to yell loudly


i wait for a crack in the clouds
to fall with meandering light
for a tree to split from the centre to the edges
trembling with leaves
and disappear in an instant
the next morning it is only a sandlot
no branches nor rubbles nor shadow on a cheek
a flat plain from horizon to horizon
just ripples on water
and by the shore – reeds or sedge
a flock of fat ducks emerges out of the depths
when no one is looking
a fisherman on a jetty stays still
not turning at the sounds
of splashes of the fog
of wings over water
at the sounds of steps
at the sounds of breathing
at the sounds of crying
patience slips into his shoulders
fingers holding the fishing rod
firmly as a flagpole
i raise my eyes to the clouds
where the crack is running already
from an edge to the centre
and celestial eels
tickle the heels of the storm

Coma Berenice

gratitude dear guest for stopping in this abode
Berenice in a coma behind a glass wall
floating in emerald barley liquor
ivory corneous palms lie still in the rivers
fire flows neatly from the crown of her head to her pink heels
sweetness of pearls between shining teeth
the dead hour lasts for millennia
kill or awake her with a kiss
she had lost or forgotten about Pan’s gift
on the golden hair no precious crown
no pearls no tassels of bitter thistles
the comb had left a scratch on her cheek
she cut off all her hair
large-scale epilation
no single palm tree left on the Nile river
here they are forming a sparkling curtain
you can touch it
every thin thread is oiled with myrrh
every sun on the countdown carousel
accelerates the rotation of galaxies
from Al-Hulba to a new sky
the countdown started with your appearance
Berenice silently counts the rotations
of the flywheel from the other side of the radiant one
a wheel turns
she flounders sighs starts to count again from the start
again flounders they all died all the Syrians fled
her knees tremble
gentle moisture is flowing down the valley
eyelids flutter reviving a cat smile
December star hail pounding the lips


When he was a shy little boy
Young Mozart started turning himself into sounds
Not knowing what he was doing
Even afraid of the conversion of his own body
Into flocks of black birds.
His father, honoured Herr Leopold Mozart had noticed
the etheric process and caught the quick sounds
into a cage of lined paper.
The little boy applauded watching as
The birds froze over thin straight bodies of snakes
On the paper in another magical transformation
Into crotchets, quavers, even short semiquavers.
Father taught him they are called notes.
The last step was to transform notes
into pure gold coins, and honoured Herr Leopold
had lectured his son in this art too.
By thirty years old, Wolfgang Mozart filled the skies with sounds
So not much of his body was left on the Earth.
In fact he stood no chance.
By the order of Emperor Joseph II,
only aristocrats could be buried in their nominal grave.
Other people, no matter how famous or rich
were thrown into soil with no mark on the surface.
That was how the emperor understood fair savings
And justice.
Sometimes, you just can’t save your mortal carcass forever.
Actually, in most cases.
No, quite certainly – in absolutely all of the cases
Your body totally disappears, though sometimes
You can transform it into sounds as did young Mozart.

Nature morte

a peculiar content
on a widespread deep plate of a desert
spiky yellowish grass
a forgotten nest on a lonely crooked tree
making no shadows
under merciless sun
in azure clear sky
a spring dried to a crack
not a water drop
stitch of birds’ paw prints
on parched clay
not a sound
only flies buzzing over a skull
what is it?
is it a nature morte or still life,
still alive?

A nest in the wood

During the time of lockdown
there is something exciting new every day
You watch the latest movies and TV series
In a year the characters are almost like family
Or you visit the best world museums
Their high tech virtual exhibitions
Or listen to famous operas through free access streams
You read a lot, prose, poetry, books and journals
On economy and ecology and anthropology
You enrol in the best academic courses
Of leading universities for free
To study foreign languages and yoga
Visual arts and world history
Medicine and organic chemistry
Theory of probability and last but not least rocket science
Everything you will need to know living alone
By yourself
In a cabin on top of a mountain
In the woods
In a boat in the ocean.