completely clean and other poems

Transitions №7

Author: Andrey Kostinsky

Translated by Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya



completely clean
as if a hundred janitors
have cleaned the school yard
so that my granite yard
of science started to shine
so where are you my achievements
either diplomas, or grams
I could celebrate until dawn
because how could a morning be without me
because how could the sun be without
my hundred-blue eyes
in them there are two skies – before and since the night
and my surprise on a ray entwined in the forehead
to which I put ice and fire
so as not to think: whether this is truth or falsehood
whether this is love or hate or third
whether it is death or happy life
to remember to forget not to know
to let go confession for a cause in a field
so that the wind, quiet from sorrow
listened to the taste of wormwood on the lips
and left the world by the porch
so that was enough for someone for some reason
and put itself invisibly into a bag,
then carried it off quickly into the steppes and the woods,
and lost itself not ever finding…



are you afraid of the darkness?
the beloved voice
sonorous on R/D/K
and the tone of the face
where I (chose) took all the colours
of your sleepy heart
look at me
you look into darkness and ice,
I do not reflect you
because love is for you
on the earth
I took it
into the merciless darkness
where only in the middle
of self
fingers feel
the name of the little fire
to not go mad
because I respond
to my call to you



you enter the house that you
cannot enter you cannot exit
you cannot stay there
the door is cut out it withstood even
the blast wave it saved the neighbours
who were sleeping behind the common
hallway. the neighbours we lived with in
full harmony, together holyday after holyday.
the head of the family who served in the Soviet
military forces in Afghanistan, his wife and daughter,
and Alina, in six months she would start studying
in year one. they just got up
and flew into underground nowadays serving
as bomb shelter. the entrance was closed got opened.
in the morning in underground you saw
tears large like peas in the man’s eyes
like years ago when a helicopter with his friend
was shot down and caught fire. ‘if not for your door.
there was an explosion in your apartment. the door-
shook but held in place. it saved us…’
you made this door twenty years ago. you did it
thoroughly. now it lies like a bridge
in the hallway. you wished to lift it.
whatever. you couldn’t. whereas they
managed to turn the house into a door
holding blast wave and fire that engulfed
all the rooms in an instant. ‘i couldn’t
touch the walls. they were so hot.’
there was a bedside table in the common
hallway, your kids used to put their schoolbags there
returning from school. you placed the pug
on it and put a coat on him during winter
so he would not freeze. the door into daylight
opened first at 6 am and many more times afterwards
until it was cut out at one in the morning
by those who came from the north
from everlasting darkness so they had no need
for the door so they did not dare to know
that behind the door there could be light


Black triangle

A year ago, I managed to get
into my ruined apartment
ten days after the Russian bombardment.
The burnt body of Nyusha the cat,
sheets of paper from the books
of my burnt library, sweeping around by the wind –
only frames left from the whole windows,
ash up to the shins, settled on the floor,
bare walls covered with a thick layer of soot.
The hum of the biting wind consisted of
unstoppable shhhhhhhhhhhhhhuuuu sound
going through my ears with endlessly stretching thread.
The smell of burning and some chemicals clogged my nose –
perhaps there were some fumes when they extinguished the fire.
Burnt kids’ sneakers lay on the floor,
there was a hole in the floor in the middle of the room made by the shell,
a monitor stood next to the hole,
curtained with a black cloth of soot,
a crooked refrigerator frame in the kitchen,
pigeons sat silently on the windowsill of my daughter’s room…
A heavy steel door lay on the floor of the hallway,
it was cut out by the firefighters.
Everything was like black and white movie of the early twentieth century.
Screws and nails remained sticking out of the walls,
reminiscent of the paintings and photos that hung on them.
A small picture once hung on one of the nails –
a sailboat at sea – when he was 5-6 years old
my son chose it at an art market
(there is a permanent art exhibition and sale of fine arts in the city centre).
Under the nail, a soot silhouette
like a sail…