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Inga Kuznetsova

Tr. Chris Mattison


I know: truth is fleeing me
like a needle in a haystack
and I am unable to grasp
it with my verse’s coarse net.
But the body vanishes
where the land curves,
it lies there like a forgotten
revolver in a desk drawer.


I am this butterfly pierced straight through
the sinciput. Someone’s shaking an enormous nail.
I am this hanger with broken shoulders,
powerless to observe things
falling in the darkness.
If you would have pressed me,
Perhaps I would have dared to say
that I am sick to death from the eternal
waiting room, from agonizing trifles.
If you would have . . .
I am your conquest,
fastened, like Andromeda, to a chain.
You do not come and I cannot budge from this place.
I crumble in the hand, turning into an aging ashen woman.
I have been stabbed to death by English pins.
You have all your ruses and games,
I have no ruse and no strength.
I am taking the pills of insult and adjustments
for the course of time―flicking away bits of wing.


A drowsy child rides, an extremely useless babe,
distinguished dignitary, the space reduced to nonsense
with the aid of papa-rickshaw. Jagged knees crack through the snow
at twilight; clashes with dogs, yawning at full speed.
Everything is shrouded, the tram rails covered.
Passing beneath pines the child views peculiar, ancient dreams:
father’s twisted cap, dust in the folds, an antler near his belt,
a deer carcass close behind, as the son slashes across a rink on wooden skates.


It’s wonderful in strangers’ homes,
amidst oddly moving
objects, staring in the darkness,
gently emerging from a coma.
With a dog slumbering at one’s feet,
crumpled notebooks lay nearby
wandering Nabokovian meadows.
Life is both marvelous and wretched:
there’s a rainbow, the tea is cooling.
The engine of ebb and flow
conveys an impatient pulse.
Lock oneself in and don’t search for the key.


I knock at the same door every day, but don’t know
if I actually want to go in.
Maybe just to hear or see something miraculous.
Every day
our upstairs neighbor shouts at someone “Get out of here,”
and then come the four-letter words – on and on and on.
Chairs and tables
from six to ten.
A little boy
cries: “Mama, please no!”
The oldest, a kid mentally his age
drinks with someone behind the kindergarten veranda.
This is somebody else’s reality.
You cannot grasp it without gloves.
My difficulty with it is a lie,
we all have our own private hells.
No, I just can’t talk right now
about the miraculous,
about the amazing and strange.
You will say to me: breathe pure prana,
but the window wound
drips with an air of brutal fests.
Someone is sobbing uncontrollably.
If it was only
possible to protect them from themselves
and from each other.
I myself am blind and weak.

for a century
you lay covered
beneath my heart
an invisible child
an antique in a chest
for a century
I held the crane’s thread
thinking it
a kite’s flight
a silly child’s amulet
a talisman
I wash ashore
clambering up, mixing the strata
of clay sand grass
clenched between the teeth
of dearly loved places
this earthen dough tastes of love
wild strawberries
this dough I
transformed in the text
half with tenderness half melancholy
compressed into lumps
the thread tugs at my hand
scattering fledglings
I’ve held you as close as a dowry
in the chest as a braid
a worn baldric

the sky’s palate has not
enough room for all
the words I need to say
I rock a bassinet to sleep
filled to the brim with letters
weaving a future with fine
thread from the crane
I am a titmouse
who lived overseas and returned
who burned the sea

Inga Kuznetsova

Inga Kuznetsova

Inga Kuznetsova(b. 1974) has a degree in philology from the Moscow State University. She is the coordinating editor for Voprosy Literatury. Her poetry has been published in Arion, Novy Mir, and Vavilon. Her book Titmouse Dreams was published in 2002. Her poetry was anthologized in Contemporary Russian Poetry (Dalkey Archive 2008).

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