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‘Shrinking cities’ and ‘Small station’.

Two poems
By ALAN ZHUKOVSKI.

SHRINKING CITIES

While skyscrapers’ growth plates are open, the fabric of cities is constantly shrinking.
The washing machine—the warm water of years and the powder of civilization diminish
The landscapes and alter our older conceptions of space. Every day every district becomes
A little bit smaller. New children, conceived every month, fed by glass, steel and concrete,
Are born from the earth and grow taller and laugh at the bridges and streets at their feet.
They play with thick clouds and regard them as poplar seed tufts. Growing skyscrapers
Can easily stand in a storm, like a group of teen boys in a harmless yet swift mountain river.
So often, the street world is hidden from view by dense clouds far below their bright eyes.
But somehow, so strangely, not only the notions of space are transformed. Also, time
Begins to condense into ever-elusive and weightless oil, soft like whispers when fingers
Dip into the liquid. But take your hands out, and you’ll see: time dries up in no time.
The taller the buildings, reducing the spaces before the horizon, the faster our lives.
The children are pulling the blankets of days to enwrap their huge bodies at night,
So solemnly sleepy. Their cells beam with light and divide to enlarge the constructions.
A village can look so much bigger than cities, whose high-rises loom in each suburb.
A countryside minute can sometimes be longer than days in the shrunken dimension.

SMALL STATION

Kittens rush to the well in the yard,
as if running a race or chasing prey.
But there’s no visible reason around.
He sees them for seconds, no time to find out
the rules of the game.

A tiny provincial village,
a coin forgotten in spatial-temporal folds.
A desolate mountain halt. A narrow railway
shines with its sun-oiled rails,
partly sunk in the sugar of brown fallen leaves.

No train ever stops here,
but the kid in the window
has noticed the kittens
and gives them a cheery wave.
Will he ever recall these seconds?
The worth of the moment will fade
in the streams of his weak, childish memory,
in the fully-grown-up recollections,
mapping his personal time
by “respectable” social conventions.

But all of a sudden, a few decades later,
in a dangerous illness, by melting and curving time,
this moment will finally float to the surface
without any obvious reason. The man will discover
the desolate point in his memory, strangely, more precious
than most of the things he considered important.

The cheery wave and the kittens.
A moment in time
that will never come back
within time.


The current index of poetry and fiction appearing in the Fortnightly‘s New Series may be found here.

 

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