Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2016 v15n1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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translation from Ukrainian by Alan Zhukovski

Orange in a Schoolbag

Walking through her rooms
in summer,
she tries to catch the wind
in the kvatyrkas
like a clumsy fisherman
who fails to adjust
his sails.

She’s on the watch for drafts
and sets traps for them.

But the drafts tell her:
your movements are too tender,
your blood is too hot;
what can you catch in your life
with such low self-control?!

You’re raising your hands
way too high
while trying to catch
Everything that slips
out of our hands
is but hollowness.
And everything
we don’t have patience for
is only the wind
above our cities.

The sun in the morning sky
resembles an orange
in a schoolbag:
the only thing of real importance
and the only thing you think about
when you feel especially

A kvatyrka is a small ventilation window (the size of a windowpane) which opens on hinges, independent from the full window. It is common in Ukraine and post-Soviet countries.

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