These poems were originally published in Italian translation by Alessandro Achilli and Yarina Grusha Possamai in the anthology Poeti d’Ucraina, Mondadori 2022, Pina Piccolo’s translation is based on their Italian version.
STOPPING THE FALL
Stopping the fall
for three carefree days in Rimini
where in the Piazza dell’Agnolo’s fountain you
launch paper boats of hope
but they never return…
WOMAN WITH A LOBSTER HEAD
Woman with the head of a lobster
and the body of a jellyfish,
why do you say in this incomprehensible language
that shores end up in the sea
and that there is more water that way,
that the edges of the world are so far away
that they can touch each other’s backs,
that a man and a woman
will never be any closer
than the upper and lower valve of a shell
with a pearl, now and then, growing in the middle.
LINDENSTRA ß E
silence is an avenue among the linden trees,
words swell like an allergy in the throat,
from these faded summer clouds,
no one has ever taken a fall –
neither the dreaming angel,
nor the eviscerated feathers of the snow,
a person, only by chance nearby,
makes me grasp the important things:
there alone, on the edge of life,
hold on tight to the handrail,
when you inhale, make sure you exhale
and even inappropriately
remember the details of another chronotope
and at every crossroad memory
will pull out a stained map,
showing no encounters
showing no sweetness
but showing there is always room to lose…
because life is what
in daguerrotypes and stereotypes
because memory is always a traitor
because maps are always stained,
because words, memory tells me,
are just as false as Judas
THE MOMENT OF TRUTH
the past does not exist, nor does the future.
there are consequences to the causes. there is the sequence of meanings.
the surface, the square root of evil
that grows, and discriminates everything around it.
equivalence, the one whereby between two opposite sides
life erases the better one,
there is a zero point, upon which rain falls like a god,
on your dry lips. on your empty body.
there is a degree, and then you are drunk, there are a thousand, they hit them.
glasses rotting, forearms asleep.
a light that doesn’t give you shade.
a bullet that always reaches you
IT’S NOT ME, THE WHITE TRUNK OF THE PLANE TREE
it’s not me, the bleached trunk of the plane tree
it’s not me, the house disabled after the shots
it’s not me, the destroyed gate, the cracked wall,
the grenade trapped in the asphalt
I am the one who exploded,
I am the one who no longer exists,
I am the one without whom
try to live now
to grow, protect, carry
as if by the hand
an empty sleeve
sewn with threads of rain
so that you can cry and cry
Halyna Kruk was born in 1974 in Lviv, Ukraine. She is the author of five books of poetry, a collection of short stories and four children’s books She has won multiple awards for her writing, including the Bohdan Ihor Antonych Prize, the Smoloskyp Poetry Prize and many others. Her bilingual Ukrainian /English collection A crash Course in Molotov Cocktails was published by Arrowsmith in 2023, with translations by Amelia Glaser and Yuliya Ilchuk. Her work has been translated in over 30 languages, and she has translated from several languages into Ukrainian. She has recently collaborated on poetry/music projects with electronic musician Yurko Yefremov and singer Halyna Breslavets. She’s served as vice president of the Ukrainian PEN, holds a Ph.d. in Ukrainian literature, and is professor of European and Ukrainian baroque literature at the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv.