Стихи и поэмы. Проза. Переводы. Письма. О поэте. Фото и видео.

From Oil

Part 2: The Valley of Transit

A jackal and a crow. Blood neither shed nor shared
between them. The dynamite, nearby, is armed.
They are barely contours, prepared
to escape the kernel of blackness and assume a rudimentary form.

Above them, thought balloons are floating. The cartoon repaginates
the seashore, windy, dry as bone.
When the rain falls, it becomes clear the photographer, buried to his waist,
was welded of bronze and focused on no one.

I’ve hidden the weapon away, disconnected the leads, and will make my way into the Valley of Transit.
Farewell, the comic shore! I know not what I hoped to find there.
Altdorfer won’t say a word. Nor Darius. Hobbled, the crow has been pecked
by the jackal, looming in the side view mirror.

Between the mountains, the valley blisters, as if with osculatory pauses.
A bee below the cliff. Beneath it, the ludi of the gladiators.
Glinting substations, conduits, conic strata
where mercury slips at the feet of oil riggers, on concrete, driving rebar.

Like two electric vortices, chasing each other’s tails,
the crow and, a femtosecond later,
the jackal. Like electrons, entangled, erasing the details…
The valley reverses its field, untwists, and resembles a lariat.

Its every sector has been precisely fixed
on the chart. This one is empty. Empty enough to put one
in mind of a die, always coming up six,
as if the other five sides existed only in the imagination.

Spans of concrete, corridors, towers partly retract
from the lip of quarry, from open shafts in which a horn
sounds underground. And a god descends out of orbit,
snatching men from the earth, into the truck, never again to be found.

An oracle stands at the door, clutching what’s left of her bottle.
With a trembling finger she traces
a rhizome of flight paths, of undersea cables.
Her awareness drifts in a boozy stasis.

“We await the oil,” she tells me, describing pyramids with her hands.
“Some dwell with the rusting fleet, and will hear
the drums in the dreaming tankers. Come to the Valley of Transit,
they will squirm in hot pitch, hang themselves in a year.

Others will live as nomads, only rarely to appear except in
those sublimes instances when, with white shirts starched,
they will vie to target a suspension
bridge at its plexus and topple the arch.”

Abandoned at an atmosphere as yet too premature
to pull the chute; at that lethargic height
from which the valley appears to square its curves
and resembles a solar zeppelin, its propeller stirred by light,

with geological endurance, arms and legs flailing,
an hysteria barely contained, as the whole grid ignites—the dematerialized
image of a circuit board failing—
and the valley is plunged into oil; or, more precisely, gets capsized.

By then, I realized my task as an historian and astronomer was false.
“The oil,” I would write, “was not worth winning.
A buried memory, eluding shape or response,
as when, by the order of his son, Ulugbek was put to death for erasing the beginning.”

Translated from Russian by: 
Wayne Chambliss
Original source: 
Нефть. Часть 2
 

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