Fleet left. Towers
are rising from waters
— and sink again:
*Grand Central of the sea —
its bottle glass of empty
***deep terminals, and foamless
*******passages, and shoals of baby fish…
Brave Herodotus had it described, it’s just
****that seem new.
So, to Palenque! To all the native cities
swallowed by forests, to all the folding books
of hieroglyphs, to the clean design
********************of Mayan steps,
to steppes beneath the alto-cumulus convoys,
where my grandfather at sixteen denounced
the family, joined the Red Guard,
saw terror, saw it all, sent them to hell,
got himself jailed, jailed again, exiled, then old.
We haven’t started it but we’ve got to see
how mermaids swim by rusty snapped-off doors
of an express stuck in abyssal mud —
and sit on cliffs of rhymes and sing.
As for the meter — as for the pure honey
****for iamb of littoral, for anapest of depths,
lighthouses of metaphors, drill towers above shelf waters –
******we know that tar at night does look mysterious.
From space that glides so low,
*******oil spills look like an unknown
Irina Mashinski is co-editor, with Robert Chandler and Boris Dralyuk, of The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry (Penguin Classics, 2015) and of Cardinal Points, the Journal of Brown University’s Slavic Department, and co-translator (with Maria Bloshteyn, Boris Dralyuk, and Robert Chandler) of Lev Ozerov’s Portraits Without Frames (NYRB, 2018). Irina Mashinski is the co-founder (with the late Oleg Woolf) and editor-in-chief of the Cardinal Points/StoSvet literary project. She is the author of ten books of poetry and translations (in Russian). Her first English-language collection, The Naked World, is forthcoming from Spuyten Duyvil.