| Slava Polishchuk
photo by Asya Dodina
… the place, where the news of the loved one’s death reaches you, becomes your own. The elbow forever commits the table’s edge to memory. The sounds sink in, squeezing the temples. From the window – figures in motion and the opposite side of the square. The voices are soundless; they have suffocated in the still air. That’s how time passes. The scream, thrusting from the street into an opened door, ruptures the dry layer. Under the layer lies your self, a mask of your semblance. A numbered casting, depending on how many were bade farewell. ___
… comes the experience. While making the bed for the night, the cover and the cased pillow made of the same blue material need not be carried separately and stacked on top of the metal battery box. Two extra strolls from the sofa to the window. You ought to place them together onto a dark mantle, which hides the wooden chest, cover them with the ends of a discolored cloth and carry the bundle to the side bar of the sofa. Two mere steps – one forward, one back.___
Pulling it toward yourself, you take out the sofa’s horizontal piece. While raising it – you hear a faint click. As you continue bending, you change the direction of your effort, before putting the piece down on the floor. In the morning – same ordeal, but in reverse order. While lifting up the tip of the mattress – you hear that same click. While noting what you’ve heard to yourself – you keep on lifting until the second click. That’s what matters: not to miss the second click, not to get distracted, not to contemplate. Otherwise, there could be a jam. Should all come through, and you’ve heard it, and you did not miss, – then you shall slowly push onto a motionless hanging piece, which in turn pushes the middle one, an easily bendable one – that rolls on the floor with plastic wheels inwards, in the direction of the other, the final piece. Joined together, they rise up and make up the sofa’s spine.
Then you place the bundle on top of the chest, tilt the mantle, and at last make the bed – first, the cover, then the pillow.
You ought to keep the salt and bread in one place, next to the table. That way, lifeline items are always close, at your disposal, even if you have to uncomfortably twist the hand. Same as ever, without leaving the chair.
As you dump dishes into the sink, leave knives, forks, spoons on the plates, making sure that the bottom of the plate coming out on top does not touch the inner fatty surface. But do not leave knives and forks inside the pan covered with water. First, you would have to fish them out of the oily puddle. Second, you would have to wash them several times with soap.
Place together the gloves and the hat – to the left wall, on the middle shelf. Outstretching the hand, take everything together. The coat you wear should be in leather, with a zipper, adorned by a rigid collar. You would raise the zipper’s lock all the way to the chin, with the collar densely absorbing the throat. It is possible to manage without a scarf. What remains are the gloves and the hat.
Upon return, hang the cap on the door hook of the walled armoire. While putting on the coat – pull the cap off the hook, without looking.
Knowing where things are – reduce the quantity of movements to an absolute minimum.
Rehashing time, you save fifteen-twenty of your morning minutes in order to, while still sitting in a dark studio, listen to the gnashing of the garbage truck jaws, as they grind the contents of plastic containers.
… that’s how it should be. Shedding darkness, the train emerges from the tunnel toward the bridge. You try to read. During late hours, in a semi-empty car, the gaze stops at the line’s very beginning. Leaning against a flickering picture, toward a narrow street which runs in the far away distance amidst mutely moving cars and a row of houses clustering together, as they divulge their beauty with the onset of darkness, the eye encounters a reflection: a white spot of the open page, and, while abandoning glass, it shall read and accost stillness:
I took out a photograph, a print
of one whose life came to an end.
Then placed it back, as lamp’s shade slightly quivered,
but noticed through the table drawer’s ray
a pure reflection floating smothered.
How oddly I became the sorrow’s prey! 2
1 Alexei Afanasiev (1968-2005) Artist, poet,songwriter. The most passionate reader of Pushkin poetry I ever knew.
2 Vladimir Gandelsman, The Portrait. Translated from Russian by Alexander Veytsman.
Cape Cod – New York