POLISH ROCK
by Serhiy Zhadan, 2002

Falling asleep, she remembered the river Ė
somewhere in the caverns of sleep, where she started to forget his face,
the freezing river glistened bronze from its center,
although snow covered its current;
later old post-war locomotives crawled out of the mist
and workers came out in their blue denim overalls.

We wound up on opposite sides of winter,
and the announcerís voice, caught in a random taxi
reminds you
of the eighties when the radio
was full of Polish rock:
rockíníroll -- mechanics in train depots listened to it
rockíníroll flew over the Carpathian Mountains,
leaking into the air somewhere near Rava-Ruska;
our country is not big enough for us to miss each other,
our air space is not vast enough
for us to listen to different kinds of music.

I think that if a direct link to God existed
it would be through the help of
warm brown covers
containing Polish rock records
with narrow grooves cut by godís nails
on their black fields;
you can see his vinyl skin,
you can feel his strawberry blood,
washing off the dust and
wiping the cuts
with a sponge soaked in vinegar.

Birds frightened by the wind
calm down and assume their places
in the spaces between her heartbeats,
without knowing, what she sees in her sleep,
or who she is forgetting in the middle of the dry river bottom;
her lifeís baggage Ė beauty marks on her skin and
tram tickets in her jacket pockets;
soon winter will roll from one hill onto the next
and the hot weather will come,
when so many things grow from the earth,
that the air has to rise up a little higher,
to avoid touching the long tall stems
that grow out of nowhere and stretch towards nowhere
just beneath her window.

translated from the Ukrainian by Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps

links to more poems by Serhiy Zhadan


zhad13.doc 10/19/04