He had a face that was in love,
it was already time to admit that he
was in love. In his hands was
a long umbrella and from the windows
the priests were observing him. The little girl
was thinking about her doll, and when
mama took her by the hand, she paid him
no attention. Mama said:
“Should we buy some ham,” and
headed for the shop. He was running,
bouncing and spinning on his axis;
for this reason he kept losing his way.
He was in love, although not one
girl he knew came
to mind; he laughed. He knew
that the weather would be splendid, as long as
this was what he wanted. And even if
he didn’t care, for some time
it would still be the same. The long umbrella
he waved overhead and put
in the vestibule. The night was deep blue, the day was
green, but the lips of his beloved were red,
like a strawberry; he whistled and walked,
congratulating himself. Yes, his beloved
must be splendid; he wrote his friend
an entire letter about this and inserted it into a magnificent
envelope. His friend would be delighted and send
greetings: a postcard with a little violinist
on a lamp-lit street.
Their smooth slide to the south.
Where there’s an oasis, a library,
A building with cool darkened rooms,
A person speaking an incomprehensible guttural language,
A woman whose face is formed of twenty overlapping photographs.
With a hollow knock
Roll across the horizon line,
But that one is rotating
Like a glass door
Most frightening of all
Is the pointlessness
Of everything that’s happening.
What I know of Paris is this
photograph of the insides
of a coffee cup.
We see here several Argentinians.
They are amiably conversing, paying no
attention to the owner of the establishment
dead for the last fifteen minutes.
Eventually there appears
a long-haired woman with a bag
over her shoulder. She takes from it
the proofs of an article on theatre and magic.
I go up and lead her away
through the emergency exit.
On the square are several pigeons
and policemen. I know
this won’t take long.
I strangle her in one of the cluttered corridors.
Her body falls. Her wondrous hair
covers her face.
All historians in previous lives
had dealings with psychiatry.
The bicyclist is riding a bicycle.
With a patter, the plaster is crumbling.
Wild grapes coil round the balconies.
Old Giuseppe is wheeling a barrow full of tomatoes.
Several paupers suddenly have a cigar apiece.
They light up; dark blue smoke envelops their wrinkled stubble.
The policeman asks: What’s the time?
Anna, bronzed as ever, flirtatiously greets Giuseppe.
Paolo drives up in an automobile, gets out with a bundle of newspapers
in hand, slams the door, blows a kiss to Anna,
greets Giuseppe with a wave of the hand, goes up the stairs
to the house, slams the door.
The paupers again have a cigar apiece.
The policeman is studying his reflection in the greengrocer’s window.
Pushing a cart and praising his wares the ice cream man passes by.
The paupers have formed a circle; on the sly they curse and pull faces.
Giovanni is leading a little girl by the hand, ginger-curled Tina in a straw hat trimmed with bright ribbon.
They have just bought the hat in the little shop round the corner.
The sun is shining, the birds chirping, flying from rooftop to rooftop.
A light breeze ruffles the hem of Anna’s cotton dress.
The policeman asks once again: What time is it?
Anna and the paupers laugh, Tina takes a mirror and begins
To make sun bunnies.
Once again the plaster crumbles.
Joe Dassin entered every home,
Danced with every housewife,
Revealed to every tired man
That golden times were still to come,
There, on Elysian Fields.
He’d put on white slacks and white shoes,
A white shirt open at the chest,
Leave the house early in the morning and not return
Until deepest night, and sometimes
Disappear for days on end.
He would sing, and sing, and sing, slowly letting
Everything slide back into place, everything that was ready to collapse
And already beginning to totter. He wrapped beating
Things such as women’s hearts in soft scarves
And kerchiefs. And constantly wiped the dust from
All the gramophones on the planet. In intervals
That were short, too short, he would fly to the Côte
d’Azur and run into the sea, in a leopard-print swimsuit.
And then hastily rub himself dry, finish a cigarette
And with a quick step make for his private jet,
Already repeating, lips kneading the first lines
Which would turn into the flesh of all forgiveness.
And people would turn on their gramophones, televisions,
Radio receivers, and everywhere he was needed.
And even his death no one took for real.
“Sing!” they told him, “Sing!” And he – slow,
curly haired, with sideburns – he drew close
even in non-existence, and implored, implored:
“Put your heart back into place.
Don’t break it.”
Anne Marie Jackson and Sergej Timofejev
Five Poems from Sergej Timofejev
1 August 2014