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  CARDINAL POINTS: THE CURRENT ISSUE
Andrey Gritsman
MOTEL

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Andrey Gritsman
My first love


First time I fell in love
I was six.
That was September 1,
and white flocks of girls
went to school,
and I could not take my eyes off her.

She was about twenty-five,
a young doctor, just somebody
my grandmother met in a town park
when we were on vacation.

They sat on a bench and talked,
I guess, about her plans to marry,
about a new job. It wasnt so bad,
that southern town in the mountains:
mineral waters, mud baths, trails,
a sort of resort, a lot of flowers.

She was blond, a soft smile
and green attentive eyes, but unable
to recognize me.
I was just another little boy to her
playing in the park.
I whispered in my grandmothers ear: I love her!
She laughed and told the young woman:
He says he loves you, silly boy.
The woman leaned
and kissed me lightly.

That was not far
from the site of Lermontovs duel,
where he was lying still alive all night
in the deep ravine. There was
a terrible storm that night,

the books claim. Lermontov
fell in love for the first time,
when he was four. Now
there is a Russian Army base in town:
trains, bringing more troops,
refueling stations, personnel carriers, hangars,
oil, gas, heaps of the surplus dead equipment
on the roadside, teenagers in fatigues
sitting on tanks, smoking Marlboros,

growing roar of the MIG fighters,
taking off for the next sortie
and heading East over the snow-covered plains,
framed by the mountains.

I havent seen her since,
and Ive never known
what happened in her life.
I would not want to know.



For my father


After you've been gone,
I've been flying alone back and forth
above the waters and the continents.
Both of us: me here and you there
know too well that this is a waste of time
and space.
I may be flying, looking for you
for the rest of my life
or death, and still never see you.

Nothing can be undone,
and I can't take it.
Nor I can take the fact
that every time I see my close ones, I know,
it may be the last time I see them.

Don't worry about me. While I fly,
an angel in uniform attends me,
gives me some water and bread,
and smiles to me.
She takes care of me
until it's time to get out,
get in line for the luggage
and then to disappear into crowd
which lives on the exhaust,
cyclic persistence
and canned expectations.

The latter is something
I live on myself, expectation
melting slowly into waiting
as I keep on flying
in the space given
for the time being.



Motel


All cheap motels possess
that terrible smell of dispossession,
dislodgement, airless sleep, and plastic crucifixion,
an owlish, shapeless face
behind the double-glass window,
the smell of life unlived,
of old rugs and dusty sorrow.

What can be dimmer than
the night of dreams that followed
the thick, tenacious odor
of the sleepy hollow.

You leave behind
this street and a frozen meadow,
the only blinking light.
You leave behind
a vacant cube of the borrowed,
of the sealed, stale, and silent space,
where one stays overnight,

where time is seized,
the pool is dry and cracked,
the phone is dead,
TV black and white,
the corner pizza place closed
last winter
and the street sign says: Do Not Enter.


 
Copyright Andrey Gritsman
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