Featured Poet

Anfisa Osinnik


( Siberia / Rancho Viejo, Veracurz, Mexico )

A Scarab

I sit on the rim of time,
my legs dangling into infinity.
I see:
         shards of the ages floating by.
I hear:
         inside an Egyptian mummy
that was once
a citizen of Faiyum
the constant rustling of a scarab— Brother
of the scarab that lives in me.


You followed a secret, stealthily, step by step.
You caught the voices of forest monsters.
Did you eavesdrop on the songs of vulpine flutes,
like Akira Kurosawa’s little boy?
Tell me, did you freeze with fear?
As you ambushed the mystical did your head reel?
Did you watch the well-formed train
of vulpine weddings during a sun shower?
Fearing to disturb the leafy floor,
fearing to exhale,
         fearing to trip upon yourself.
You wished to go out under the rainbow,
Under the rainbow
and never to return…
A flute’s open holes are more terrifying than dead maws,
a noose of taut horror around the neck …
I go out under the rainbow,
                 under the rainbow.
Who is going step by step?…
But please…
                 Not a word…


You go after god’s word,
In such despair, so hopelessly…
you’ll make a tempest in a teapot,
and the cosmos will be so silent
that god will lean down
and say to you: “Hey, Grasshopper,
You’ve brought my song down
to a such a level of human simplicity
that I feel pain today, real human pain…”
And so you’ll sit on a branch of the cosmos
and sing, like a grasshopper…
                 with God.

[Translated from the Russian by Andrew Wachtel]

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Current Issue - Winter 2003