Alexander Ulanov


          The earth mows down the rain and bales it into lakes. The forest renounces the color green—but never brown. To arrive at a distant town in order to buy bread and to stroll a staircase. Autumn blows away the leaves along with the dragon kite; an open door is drawn on its shut gates.
          The shadow skirts a semicircle around the passerby, between the flickering, rustling flames of the asphalt. Thought always demands clarification—for this reason, it is important to interrupt it in time. After all that is said and done, an exclamation point is only a dot that had tossed up another dot above itself. So that the night germinate, it must be milled down to the tiny dots, down to the very poppy seeds.
          A rustle in the seashell is as nothing, narrow slits leading into a feline world, tiny cyclopes-needles, drops of rain on the garden’s palms, a dream gently caressing the shoulders. And this too we shall subtract from that which is missing.



          Nouns do not possess time, that is for the verbs—tenses, the past, the present, the future. In hushed tones, the rolling, riverine shadow under the weight of the wind, a ripe stone sewn together by the wasp’s needle-stinger. Solitude is not a mountain but a home. Where the wave has lapped at the book, the moon sprouts through water. That which has been initiated is always present here. Sling-like rafters, the parachute of the roof. Smoke is more resilient than diamonds, it cannot be split open. And each of them has its own kind of rain. That is the distinguishing characteristic of time scooped out of the well or out of the spring.



          Even the octopus will one day cease to shovel with his paws on the Cretan fresco. In questioning a memory of the first instance, do you not stimulate a recollection of the last one? Snow recedes from dust as water. Such is the development of a rope—filament by filament. It is the wind that divided the heavens from the earth. Sand permeates the substance of the letter, but the bird is no letter, because letters are identical. Nor is it a word, because words are indistinct. The rain does not warm the apples. Whom is it about then?
          Extinguished mice scamper along the crushed fingers of the plaza. He dies whose shadow vanishes. Death asks nothing of us, it knows all—that is why it is lifeless. Rings disperse. Every tree contains a window frame. We will continue living here, as long as the snows linger.



          Time flows through glass with the speed of a grain. Sugar and lemon on the table, the corridor between the walls of a dream. The night is conserved within the letters, in the shadows of pages. It breathes with the river, the light bulb, the rowboat. Only color returns—of plants, of birds—with the trolleybus’s bow, with the peeling gait. The wind above the roof of last year’s summer is too wide; it is time for the butterflies to flock to the window. The banner of the eclipse is immobile. The forest seedling will not thrive in the throat, so much has been said already. The antediluvian waves are not raised up by the mastodon and now he is deadlocked into the rain—or molded into the comet. The wall is deprived of distance. The plowed-up field is peeled back by the horizon. The essence of the frozen lingonberry is sturdier than ashes.



          It is difficult to reach the apex of night, commingled with earth. But that which for the snail is at the level of the belt is only ankle-deep for the snake. If words open vistas—it means they are right. There is nothing that is without a semblance. It is good in the eyes of the tongue when words do not require dividing. The water that flows through the rocks is black—and, wrapping myself in air, I speak to you, swimming across the voice. And the grass is higher than the river—beyond it, the downy poplar pollen in the palms of flame.



          To dissolve in the glass of the city, between the walls of wind and the columns of morning above the bridges of chiming. The volume of sunrise in the captivity of church bells.
          The roofs’ fish—their ridged spines. Time is heavier than either the south or the east, but, most likely, it is lighter toward its apex. No one speaks through me.
          The fat monument—houses cease to burgeon in its vicinity. But in the rain’s midday, grains of sand transform into droplets. Who does not presage himself? The black and white midday, the clouds that make one’s head spin.
          Paints are mixed in the scallop’s shell. The fresh sea grows northerly. The ship’s hull is not cleansed but rinsed, like gold. And the Cutty Sark figurehead is balanced calmly on the prow’s cutting edge.
          The city converses with me, because it is not within me—between the house and the cloud, between the tousle and the respite of the wind. Because every autumn has its own swell.
          And when the seconds are bound into heavy sheaves and the houses are rocked by the sunset, the dandelions will not save the moon, but they will assist the stars.



          The creaking of snow under winter’s stone wheels touches us. That which is complex unfolds slowly, it is stored within itself, like a snail. It is how the night is stored within the depths of day. The wind is sufficiently empty to play the flute—this would not be possible beside a stream. But water advances into the dream parallel to wooden December.
          The moon incinerates the snow, the sun bestows calendars, and you uncover the cupboards of weeks. The morning of unsettled sparrows, the branches of sleepy oxygen. The shadows of seconds are not bustling, the shadows of objects are not immobile. Between the vein and the artery is a canvas. The mouse gnaws through the cord of an uninhabited telephone. Honeycombs are used to play chess, the chalk of day is used to write on the blackboard of night. Present, daily, nethermost. Subcutaneous, counterfeit, prepositional.
          Wooden time arrives. Tuesday descends down to the floor. The night slowly dispersing arranges the cities.



          These arms seed sleep.
          The shutters of clams are swinging open, the dragonfly flies over the moon, and the moon springs away from the pupil. In the heated room, the scaly-winged wind. You enter and close off the street. The fish on the eve of blossoming, the downy poplar pollen in the palms of flame. Trust—is to be nothing. Water where once were lips. That which carries the echo away. The fingers that unbraid us inside the darkness, as long as the dream is divided into us in its delicious exhaustion, in the river’s summer pillow.
          The lake at the fracture in the road.

translated from the Russian by Alex Cigale