(translated by Sergey Gerasimov from Russian)
It's a gray, gray dawn; cement-gray rain is falling on the city,
which is stuck in it like an octopus
and moves its arms caught in mortar.
Wind is shaking trees like glutinous bells made of mud.
It's a deluge, it's an invasion of liquid statues;
the city is covered with gray dough: buildings, trees, automobiles;
birds fall down like living gray rags,
people, all in gray spots of their droppings, hide under sheds.
Morning lights appear in the windows
like thin fingers inside a Rubik's cube
the well-groomed fingernails of window panes
flicker with pale, green-apple reflections.
The cement rain has already turned into a cement shower,
I stumble, I rub my eyes, I cough,
opening my mouth through the cement dough.
I'm already forty, and I'm drowning in this gray porridge,
having no idea what to do.
I've entered the front door. I'm in gray heavy clothes that smell of fish.
I tear them off and feel like a new-born statue, getting rid of soft, disgusting shell.
I'm not completely petrified yet, something in me might be rescued,
moved, stirred. I can still come up to my family on the thirteenth floor.
The inner world has been cast in transparent concrete,
flowing from an orange cistern on wheels.
My mind has acquired a curvature and an opaque density,
turned into a sandbox with playing kids
caught inside a pearl as big as a dump truck.
Yes, the gray cement drizzle was falling even then,
at the beginning of time, when we were kids.
No one could expect the tragedy then.
We were drinking white wine in Valencia, the night was falling,
dark-blue and purple seeped through things as if through bandage,
and a bat flitted low through the air, above the café tables.
It dropped a diving beetle into my glass,
and I flinched, but you didn't notice.
You were dreamily looking into the distance,
like a parrot might look at an iridescent puddle of petrol,
which was beautiful.
The beetle was floundering about in the glass, and I said, look at it!
And that moment nailed time and space to the emptiness
of eternity, like a wing of a flying hawk.
We are covered all over with warts of eternity like that one.
When the wallpapers of time are ripped off,
all that is left are nails with scraps of skin, of air, I can so clearly see:
here is a trench with flowing water, and a boy
puts a sailing boat on it: a pine cone with a dove feather,
and the boat slides with the current, and I can still see the bottom,
covered with thick, dark orange, date- and dried apricot-colored leaves,
and a receipt from a supermarket lies on the bottom,
like a sunken cruise liner.
And later, a beautiful girl, resembling a piglet,
with long black hair and a false diamond. These are
drops of childhood, simple, transparent,
first drops of clear time, but now the whole world
is flooded with gray cement, and the princess
can hardly breathe under a pile of marble blankets,
and I hold this world like a pea,
and we are inside, and God from the fourteenth floor
pours onto us gray cement shower,
and I can't see faces, but know they are somewhere around.
We are commas in the hardening cement, triangular footprints of birds.
I remember a photo: a few men, in coats, play chess
in a park during a heavy snowfall.
The pieces on the chessboard
are bogged down in the snow, both pawns and knights;
in the wet cotton candy,
in the fluffy whiteness.
And I will never know if I won or lost…