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Linor Goralik

Tr. Peter Golub


When going out for milk or anything else
in a worn out jacket, to the kiosk
you might see a girl with eight easter cupcakes and two sand pails
standing at the front door, on the very last step.
Her body is frail, her head empty.
All of her, like death, beloved
like death, simple —
and her braid, and her full full braid.
She picks out a cupcake, and carefully approaches me,
she takes my documents, as if this were very important.
Looks at the photograph, biography, biopsy, all the copies.
It’s me, girl, it’s definitely me.
My head is empty,
conscience clear,
you’re mine.


The rock holds the paper, while the scissors cut the hand and seal out of her.
Just a little more left.
The rock thinks: “Jesus, why did I want to be a doctor
Should have just stayed with mechanical mathematics.
Again, I feel nauseous and dizzy.
There’s still time I’ve got get out of here.”
The scissors think: “Christ, when will I finally get to smoke!
Maybe another doctor can sew her up?
Women these days, will lie under any seal,
as if they weren’t the ones to pay for it.”
The paper thinks,
it’s almost over, that she just has to wait a little longer,
and tries
not to scream.


One morning, in 1942, she fled.
He broke the mirror with his hoof, and yelled at her mother —
A talented annoying actress, who used to be a nun.
Then he went out and in a hellish howl
called out her name above the whistling of the boxcars,
with desperate hands calling from the ventilation holes.
Small, white, in a long skirt.
In the note, left on the radio, she said:
“O father! I know, you’re doing what you have to do.
But it seems to me, that I am going mad.”
He ran from office to office,
where he was surely known quite well,
and they shook with fear.
Someone called somewhere, sent out her school photo.
At 2 a.m. he returned home and got drunk,
overturned a few pots,
smashed the radio with a pitchfork
and fell asleep into a horrifying dream.
White, with blue eyes.
Long skirt, with an allergy to bensoin.
Attention! Attention!
This is Germany speaking:
Today under a bridge we found a girl with horns.

an auburn fox runs through the red forest, —
he lies mixed up with his gun,
in red autumn, in tilled chernozem,
not deep, —

                            and here the fox zigs back and forth
crossing the heart, the throat, the heart, —
it jumps, enters a paw inside the soul,
pulls it out, gives it a shake, and carries on
                            and he screams through his gapping mouth:

For Christ Sake Why! For What?

I didn’t have time — I’m almost blind, —
I didn’t have time — they, me, in April,
when everything was finished
when those like me — dressed in rags,
half blind, gimp, and without mustaches, —
trudge through the smells of Kinder, Kirche, Küche
through their green April red forest,
blood ran in my eyes, I could not see
and the red animal, and throat, and heart, and throat, —
I never fired
not a shot, —
                           For Fuck’s Sake Why?!
O Yeah?! Then Give Me Something, Give Me, Give Me, Give Me!!!

And here the fox falls down, lies still.


One says to the other:
“I don’t want to work, I’m staying home.
I won’t leave you, can’t, won’t.”

And the other says:
“Cut it out, Alesha
(or who are you, Serezha, Sasha).
Cut it out, you’re not a kid, this is just how things are.

And besides this isn’t about you. This is just how it is.
Things happen, the weak can’t always swim ashore,
but this does not mean there’s less work.
See how the water flows from under out feet, —
get ready, or you’ll make them panic.

You know that I am glad that all this was,
just a pity, that we knew each other so briefly.
But I’m left without sin, which is very charming.
I’m left your brother, to such a bastard,
lecher, trout face, — just kidding just kidding, I won’t, sorry.

Alright, get out of here Andrew (or maybe you’re Volodya),
and work your ass off for yourself, and those near you.
Now go, it hurts your mama, don’t torture her, stop this farewelling.”

And there’s no water, air, nowhere to hide.

But one manages to cross himself
While the other has a chance to turn around


Brother Naph-Naph ascends by foot to Jerusalem, with a giant sack behind his back, and tells the Virgin Mary how he was born on straw, and how he can only sleep on straw, and how on brick or wood, such nightmares come that it’d be better to stop living altogether. He brought gifts, and shoved them in the crack between the floor and alter — a tiny bag with bran inside, he was afraid to be such a pig in the temple, but hoped that she understood what it’s like to be small animals, awaiting a stranger’s breathing behind straw doors. Covered in dust, he returned to his cell. He put a small icon under his hay bed, an icon he carried from across the world, and tried to convince himself that when someone comes and starts an uproar, the Virgin Mary will chew a bit of bran, and hold the straw so close together that not a single wolf hair could squeeze through.

Brother Nooph-Nooph went from elder to elder, and asked to be saved from termites, bark beetles, the wood eaters, but the whole time wanted to be direct, and ask for protection from the mean neighbor, the gray swine eater, but he was ashamed: why can’t a grown pig stand up for himself? The elders looked at the sun with their blind eyes, blessed brother Nooph-Nooph from snout to hoof, mumbled unintelligible words used for prayer. Brother Nooph-Nooph returned to his cell covered in autumn leaves, caulked his wooden boards with grass, lay down on the bench exhausted, saying to himself: use your head, use your head, he will come for you and will choke on the elders’ grass, and will leave coughing past the Neva, and I will be left to live like I do, there’s still time before vespers, I can sleep a bit, the door is sturdy.

Brother Niff-Niff went to the forest, gathered up wolf droppings and mixed them in with his cement, and laid every brick reciting Our Father, and asked the abbot to pass water and glague through the window, when the time comes, saying that he’d save himself from the gray Satan with prayer and fasting, but he really relied more on stone and cement, in confession he admitted to pride and kneeled two hundred times a day, but nonetheless returned to masonry, and pushed bricks with his hooves, making sure each one was fired properly, checking the wolf dung with cement, only a little left until the ceiling is complete. And to himself kept thinking: my faith is sturdy, but let the wall be sturdy too, so as to be certain. He sighed deeply and went to give his twenty bows to the small icon.

The Gray Cardinal lay on his velvet bed at home, the doctor kneeling to him said: Your Grace, don’t destroy yourself, stay in bed, God be with them, really, even without them you’re already on the limit, just one blow, and you could be in the ground, I mean up in the sky, either way, don’t risk it, Your Grace, it is not worth it. The gray cardinal cleared his dry throat, looked to the east, and said to the doctor: there is nothing to fear, my friend, just help, yes like this, one step and another, yes, good, the monastery isn’t far away, and beyond it the forest, I’ll do what I have to and then lie down under a tree, bite on my tail, and greet me Blessed Virgin, lead me away. I simply cannot stay, they’ve been working all this time, have waited for me for so long, performed so many rites in my name, no, I cannot deprive the faithful of their aspirations, I won’t take this sin upon my soul, I’m sorry doctor, I must go.

Linor Goralik

Linor Goralik

Linor Goralik (b. 1975, Ukraine in 1975) holds a degree in computer science from Beer-Sheva University. She is the author of two novels, two collections of short stories, and a book of poems, Just Kidding Pete (2007). She is the laureate of the Triumph Prize (2003). Her poetry was anthologized in An Anthology of Contemporary Russian Women Poets (University of Iowa Press 2005).

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