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Marianna Geide

Tr. Peter Golub

The Marriage of St. Catherine of Alexandria

without a sky or curtain — with one
wall in the window
the other wall around me turned
and made an ark above me
the wet floor smeared below
the snail complains — how do I to live here?
she feels the non the heat approaching
how to keep the tenuous humidity
on the leaf the slug dries flat
to perish in his empty beauty
unlike on the cross when from the thin wounds
a sanguine liquid pours turning to redbrick dust
the morning died, and noon approaches
St. Catharine became the holy wife
the sun fell out like a hot gold
a simultaneous engagement taking both the head and hand.
abandoning the sleeve
after three days the infant resurrected in the body
musing on her silence, keeping his own
what have I done, dear god, why did you fall in love with me.
the snail unwinds the support of her skeleton
to spill into her mutilation
you do not speak because you are the speech that needs no answer
and I am silent because speech flows ahead of me
St. Catherine never asked
what happens after one becomes the bride of god
the guard who spins his torch from pitch and rubbish
flattens my body, creases its corners
they’ll make me hand out joints and vertebrae to paupers
and leave me to my fiery task to scatter pupils in the sky
for even then she will not want to take her hands off
run, break, tight siliceous shroud
creep from my nails scanty blood
the most attractive kind of death flows through me
let it flee while I still stand ready for you
how many suns will it take you to burn the water from me
letting her spill, guarding my scarlet pallor
the pale mollusk cools from the red heat
having been emptied by the white of the cracked day
what have I done, my god, why did you fall in love with me


From bluish-yellow to a garnet red
The infant’s skin is made, afraid of darkness
Every unexpected sound creates its bruise
Every unsteady step
At night the corridor is twice as long
And objects hide under the blankets of their shadows
Under the unseen door a thread of yellow light is seen
the peep hole in the middle
the hand over the metal knob a sheath over a knife, should you go back, you cannot
the return path, you are alone, by this yellow
in this empty dark apartment


it is exactly at midnight
the Peraslavl metropolitan train rolls off into netherworld
breaking the sinews of the earth’s crust
pushing each other against the emaciated walls
hurrying to deliver the sacred gifts from mother Persefona to mother Metrofana
an ancient polonaise
turns the dial inside the phone
on the third day someone climbed into our conversation
lived there, couldn’t make sense of anything
we said about the advantage of dodecaphony
over polyphony, wisely disappeared
onto the Peraslavl metropolitan by the name of metal Felix
who said, you can’t step onto
the same escalator twice?
the serrated ribbon moves along
the metal teeth and every time returns
the same could be said for water, or
a rock, thrown into the sky, it returns according to its schedule
inside the stone wall at the bottom of the worm-hole, hides a stone worm
from birth solicitous
spitting out dust over his shoulder
I could spit on what happens to you, little city
that squeezes my sides with its hoola-hoop
the breasts, you say, aren’t to your liking — so why not go?
you would if you could
you too little city will crumble according to your expiration date
your ash will settle into my cupped palm
your stone to my frame will fuse
and there begin to grow 


who bundles up the plaster of the unknown species
who takes by the wings the unnamed butterfly
and sets it free, without leaving a record
who sees the city, when darkness slowly sets
let us submerge the palm into the thick mud of the tar pit
where a small anaconda sleeps
in the pads of fingers not changing its form
like a mole who digs his hole, sensing with his forehead and back
where he is headed, or a bird who dances not for
he who
etches his permanent movements
every spring
or the clear scales, not hunted
and with her all latin and greek alphabets

hearkening what will forever go unsaid by them
the dirt flung into the sky lays
waiting for whoever picks it up

who sees me, when no one watches
when I’m asleep, no one will awake me
when I wake up, no one will adore me
when I die, no one will judge me
I’ll keep vigil standing, sitting
when I fall asleep, I’ll keep vigil on my back
for not even in my dreams will anybody help me
even in death no one will mar me

he who chiseled out my eyes, filling them with spit
added lead into the torrid sulfur
mixed sand
took me to the bottom , did not
consult me

he could have asked, I am in every intercostals furrow
in every socket I could place my eyes
and then not know in which direction I was headed, or what was in front or behind
so that the entire horizon would turn inside my chest

and he, who chiseled out my eyes and mouth
my language
he knew, how to set me up and how to protect me
so that I would remain hard
and dark like a sword

from every plant, and valley
full geysers
I took the names, that took away my
and he will make it, so that you will make these sojourns with me

every passerby I wanted to turn
inside out
what if you’re in him, stepping outside, you’ll
come with me
I wanted to break each — stone against stone

you could be there curled up like yolk
and looking through the crack

and then I calmed, completely calm
since you knew how to make my hunger
how do I fill myself with my eyes
how to
demand the impossible from another

Psalm 1

The unknown sounds knocked the air out of me
The unknown sounds wanted me dead
Beat me in the face with their wings
Turned me into bread and water
Tortured me, as if I were their slave
          Or did I save them
Tortured me as if I were a corpse
                Later resurrected
                         And then they left
Left me to remember with the throat and mouth
                         White noise
             Arbitrary on this earth

Psalm 2

The sun spot angel looks into my house
From the light bulb under the lampshade
The sun spot angel comes to take my mind
to burn it with a coal
Where were you, when I was resting from my work?
He asks, where were you
When I invited those with whose mouths I am eating now?
Where were you at the end of the week
Whose fingers whined
In my resurrected body
Now yours?
The sun spot angel looks
Inside my mouth
And I’m now mute
The sun-mouthed angel leads me
Into his city
Now complete

Psalm 3

(the cradle will rock)

The whirligig rides they gave me, made me puke
They swung and sung me
Didn’t shroud me, didn’t wash me, dropped me
Didn’t lift me and sung me
They probably loved me
And didn’t bury me
Didn’t write an epitaph
Covered others with me and me with others
Didn’t name me

Marianna Geide

Marianna Geide

Marianna Geide (b. 1980, Moscow) graduated from the Russian State University of the Humanities, with a focus on the life and work of Thomas Aquinas. She is the author of three poetry books, including The Dead Lantern (2007). She is the recipient of the Debut Prize (2003), Moskovsky Schet Prize (2006), and was shortlisted for the Andrei Bely Prize (2007). Here poetry can be found in New Russian Poetry (Dalkey Archive Press 2008), as well as in AGNI and the St. Petersburg Review.

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