Author: Tatiana Vinogradova
* * *
some vanishing warmth
that remains where we were
and where we are no longer
where the cat used to doze
where you used to sit
i’m caressing and caressing
this fleeting island
and under my palm
the gentle peau de chagrin decreases and decreases
to indifferent and cold space
The winter tingles with cruelty.
The eyes of the dead snake gaze at the king.
He doesn’t notice it, doesn’t see it, but…
He feels something. With the back of his head. With his skin.
The snow is dry, thorny and righteous, unlike the king.
The snake is motionless, for it has long been dead.
But it is watching from the far corner, over there, behind the fireplace,
where stuffed heads of the king’s enemies hang behind thick cobweb lace.
The king shudders.
Winter cold gnaws at his bone marrow.
The king is having a hard time.
Actually, he is a poet. And not without a gift, they say
(he publishes his poems under a pseudonym and beyond his country).
The snake is his most favourite creature.
People of the country put up with having the mad dreamer at the helm.
To tell the truth, the snake does not exist in the reality of the realm.
Snake-Winter is frozen up outside the window
(there infinite fields are flowing in the suburbs
and turning into highways, higher in their ways).
But it seems the snake inside the throne room also lays.
Dead, though not completely dead,
penetrating the glass with jasmine aroma
and other scaring summer smells,
the snake flows inside invisibly, thither, into that far corner,
where it has been lying coiled for a long time.
and from there – closer, closer to the king.
(Soundlessly rustling: love you, poor little thing!)
And he – he owns the House of Sins and the Trade Union of Minds.
He is addicted to a pointless game –
to connect words
and to implant souls into dead constructs’ hearts –
snake-winter souls, so volatile, so cruel …
But suddenly the window opens
and blizzard bursts into the throne room –
and snakes, snakes, snakes!
From everywhere, whirling, they crawl in, no – they fly in!
There’s no salvation.
Ouroboros appears (Fortinbras by his second name).
The king grins blissfully:
I got so tired of waiting, and at last you came.
«The king and Fortinbras», illustration by Katya Rosenzweig.