Manuscript Found by Natasha Rostova During the Fire

by sophie

I will try to live on earth without you.

I will try to live on earth without you.

I will become any object,
I don’t care what—

I will be this speeding train.
This smoke
or a beautiful gay man laughing in the front seat.

A human body is defenseless 
on earth.

It’s a piece of fire-wood.
Ocean water hits it.
Lenin puts it on his official shoulder.

And therefore, in order not to suffer, a human spirit
inside the wind and inside the wood and inside the shoulder of a great dictator.

But I will not be water. I will not be a fire.

I will be an eyelash.
A sponge washing your neck-hairs.
Or a verb, an adjective, I will become. Such a word

slightly lights your cheek.
What happened? Nothing.
Something visited? Nothing.

What was there you cannot whisper.
No smoke without fire, they whisper.
I will be a handful of smoke
over this lost city of Moscow.

I will console any man,
I will sleep with any man,
under the army’s traveling horse carriages.



—- Polina Barskova, translated by Ilya Kaminsky