Sunday, May 07, 2006

Matvei Yankelevich

[from Writing in the Margin]

A man born tired. Time moves slowly inside him. Outside a whirlwind spins leaving him breathless. People dressed neatly slap his weak skin and force him to breathe in their exhaled air, to live and want to live. He is none of them. He is tired. His life is a series of naps. Between naps there are painful subcutaneous shots administered. Later there is the presence of others, inside him. The man born tired wakes up as other men in the same predicament. Smoking a pipe. Napping again. Dead branches sway slowly in the corners. He wakes into darkness moving within the folds of some dark drape, a hood to keep the light out. He examines the tiniest things, vibrations. He stutters, or rather, the life around him stutters, stops and starts. This swaying movement, like a storm, uneven and nauseating, brings him comfort and fear on one platter. He is tired. He might close his eyes, again. But the knowledge that he will have to open them again and to what sight? prevents him from napping. The venom of sleep takes its time. He waits. He cannot wait. Slowly he withers. Softness becomes pale fragility. Skin turns to china. Eyes are targets. Brittle ground breaks under foot, ice crumpets. Flaky snowcakes.

Should I tell more or is it enough? He is tired. Let him rest.

Just try moving your hand.

Matvei Yankelevich is the editor of the Eastern European Poets Series at Ugly Duckling Presse, and co-edits 6x6, a poetry periodical. He is the co-translator, with Eugene Ostashevsky, of An Invitation For Me To Think, the selected poems of Alexander Vvedensky, forthcoming from Green Integer; and of OBERIU: An Anthology of Russian Absurdism, an anthology forthcoming from Northwestern University Press. A chapbook of his long poem, The Present Work, is forthcoming from Palm Press in Fall 2006.