Transitions №3

Author: Irina Kotova

Translated by Anton Yakovlev

Bicycle Handlebars
                      For A. Parschikov

stoned pioneers are collecting bicycle handlebars
like flowers
ripping hands from riverbanks
nothing changes—
the same storm
the same money the same ice cream the same Sputniks fly toward Mars and Marx is again in vogue

hungry chick mouths of cooling towers
quit smoking, collect rain

godlike cormorants stand
up to their ankles in water

women enter men’s water
men enter women’s
screaming from pleasure
in cormorants’ voices

no one
feels happy but no one wants to die

the yellow-bellied grains of sand on the beach
became cinderblocks of zinc coffins
fell on the Latvian machine-gun carts
on the roofs of Georgian apartment buildings
on the mustachioed Ukrainian fields

all that the children molded from sand
was left behind the future’s back

hopping the waves, you hope
to be thrown beyond the buoys
where you’ll meet the chief bicycle handlebar
happiness will come

but always
your head butts up against

black earth


random people
check into a small hotel
into different rooms
white bats
white apples of mountains
stop on purpose
each morning in front of their windows
the people meet at breakfast
occasionally exchange awkward greetings
sometimes they smile
and, just in case,
no one tells any stories
from the past
each of them has
reasons for bad blood
on the fifth night
an avalanche
descends upon the hotel

they die on the same day

you told me once
Modigliani and his wife
died almost on the same day—
right after his death
she threw herself from a window
this is not exactly true—
they were crashed by an avalanche
they were covered by snow
the same fluffy snow
that used to melt
on your shoes
while you took the elevator
to see me

out there
under the snow
she became an apple
ripped in two
by a very dull knife