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Olga Zonberg

Tr. Peter Golub


I am four years old. The coat I wear
Is checkered, made of wool. It is cold.
Just wonderful. Although,
A piece of round ice is lost.

“Leave it, you’re creaking as it is,”
Said Mom, and it fell.

I looked for it all day then,
And again today
A little man sat in it
Waving his hands and calling to me.


Like in one of Tolstoy’s novels,
During clandestine operations
Sight may access the height of the normative limit
But not its other dimensions.
In the meantime, in half-legal
Sewing groups
Cloth is crucified
Strictly horizontally
(Lengthwise parallel to the thread
West to east.)
We will cut it, so what?

The most beautiful emerges accidently
Beyond its own strength
Hiding the adolescent Thumbelina
Under a leaf
Clothed, contrary
More than diffident.


His eyes were bright and twinkling; he liked it when they held a certain godly strength, and were happy, when under a fixed gaze his companion would lower the eyes, as from a brilliant sun. Though near old age, the sight in his left eye began to fail.

 — Svetony, Holy August

The serpent’s plumage, after so many years of flight,
Became so weightless that it shone. Devoid of prior grace,
He comes to me, and sings his death hymns,
The other portents are incommensurable, astrologer.

Remember, Libya. Remember. Tibirius, pretend to be
Half animal and rule. My eyes, are they at fault here?
Half the empire — the right — remains faithful,
The not right will be blind. Don’t be afraid of victory, legates,

Give symbols and their owners to the fire
Because I am dead, and many years of flight,
And at the month of death my contemptible name —
By blindness I swear — won’t cancel that someone else’s insight.


The autumn, stinging, wasp,
Particularly the extant hue
Has now become light-blue
The color-asthenic stripped of the body
(On the occasion of someone’s early death,
An honest disappointment) —
A hue of laughter without strain,
Unbearable, and still magnificent.


...Mixing memory and desire...

Now cross into the red
Moscow-river, the one which doesn’t exist
To the pre sunset red light
Cross over into Zamoskvorechye
And not a single poet,
Above darkness, which is not,
That crosses into epic meter
Will not shock with his speech.
The letter-pacifier in the mouth
And speaking into the intolerable
So grateful for the muteness —
And the veranda is lit on
To this side
Beauty is reduced to ash
To this
Mixing the memory and hope
With lips of Faust and Brandt.



Look — it tears from warm hands
And falls in the rhythm of slowed film,
Death’s details exaggerated in the moan,
Willfully-roomy, hopelessly-fragile,
One person, struck by the rain.
On the wet walls, steps, and columns
Through the dust of the hurricane, a fixed glare
Is pointed like a shot, like old age advancing.
The thunder stretched out to the side of light,
And the flowing arch breaths on deathbed labdanum
While the firmament and summer drive
The fallen angel in the asphalt with a glacial waterfall.
His eyes are screened by clouds,
And after the sorrow, confusion, and hate
Like heat, which comes from strange hands
Love slips through the hands to the sky.

Memories of an American Resident

Vermillion, dark green, black cardigan, two piece.
Whoever puts it on — will never leave their elegant age.
In Arizona, summer weekend,
Children go to church with their parents.
It is a pleasure, to be a kid, to know how to read, and hide it.
There is the desire to live for a long time.
He lived for a long time and then died on one fine day
Surrounded by a large family, as is expected
In good novels both old and too new.
There, he is still remembered in 15 years
(these 15 years), here he is already known —
Everything, you see, is pretty smooth,
The embers glisten on the seamy side of life
And the voice says, today is the start of the week,
Only the start, and for the interim it is possible to forget,
This and that, and the lines of your hand,
Ambiguous, like a three digit IQ.


The child is an amazing jerboa, a bit incredulous but a lively roe (trained well for decelerated leaps) from the picture on the postcard. Signatures on the back yesterday were of course I don’t remember not how man not what for they are a game from previous classmates an incomplete set of enumeration: HAPPY MARCH 8. Well what? Read it; don’t grimace; and now I want to hide under the desk. For Christ’s sake leave and never said it fine ok it only gets worse when you are without almost like a group of lab assistants superficially on the respiratory organs on two on the lungs on the quivering on resembling a word I love you not aloud not to yourself but that was later. But that was the single barrier the first yes and the last and the obsessive tape-recorder and barking like a terrier permit me to your paw in reality.


This tale isn’t newer
Than its source:
The pawn of chess’ blood
Heads East.

The pawn has no one
In that East.
The pawn is wrapped in plaid,
Cross-stitch sewn,

Pawn is beautiful,
Chess blood,
Though her soul is
Such, that no Stanislav Grof

Could understand,
O how sad her lot,
Going, the poor thing, forward...
Pawn, you ought to go.

A pedestrian out East
Similar to you
The pedestrian cross-walk
Made of reptile skin,

Pawns are carried in the arms
And their light you see
On the bounds of happiness
At the line the end.

Olga Zonberg

Olga Zonberg

Olga Zondberg (b. 1972, Moscow) has a graduate degree in chemistry from Moscow State University. She the author of two collections of poetry, including Seven Hours Two Minutes (2007), one book of short stories The Winter Company of Year Zero (2001). A Public Space published two of her short stories in 2006.

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