Sunday, January 6, 2013

the poetry reading (for Sofiya)

Bare trees and evening.
A bronze bell not chiming
spreads distance as mystery.

The flickering of early stars
could be flametips of candles
over this gathering of souls
in an old house of poems.

The door opens a tragic smile.

My baggage of memory and worry
left outside the winter threshold.
What country have I fallen into?
A dark cat on the wooden floor
considers the shape of my aura.

Sofiya and others greet me warmly,
gesturing as if through time, speaking
a tongue I don't know but understand.

I drink something that tastes of forever,
then sit on a love seat sighing its fabric.

Sofiya stands, opens her new book,
her dark hair hiding consciousness.
Ghosts gather round -- Akhmatova,
Mandelstam, Tsvetayeva, Brodsky.
They quaver between her open lines,
breathing out uneasy atmospheres.

Ah, listening as a way of vision!

So much held back, so much thus given.
Lines declaimed, some words whispered.

I hear of love that is far and burning
or waits where shadows hold starlight
and meaures of some lost music.
I hear of a god looking for knowledge
of seasons, mirrors, and gravestones.

Midnight comes, the walls are melting.
Faces like wax from candles are falling.
Sofiya tells me to come to my senses.
I'm not really here, it's past time I go.

She hands me a candle of Blue Light burning.

Blue Light: Selected Poems, by Sofiya Yuzefpolskaya-Tsilosani

~ TB


  1. To Tim:
    The black coal keeps the blue shadows,
    as the depth of times.
    The blue shadows hide the eternal distances
    in the white snow.
    Late at night you can read the script of the blue sparks,
    when the skies write its book of our destinies.
    Then - what other voices are heard
    in a blue tongue of the memory,
    which the extinguished fire has left, -
    as the shadows spread from the door of the abandon house.
    They are on the threshold of the new speech.
    That’s how we hear each other.

  2. Here is what I felt: night deep black outside when I read, stars blinding in the dome of heaven, 70 miles south of Lake Ontario; beyond, Canada. Wind moans around the old farmhouse cornices from the northeast, unobstructed. Poem mysterious, time, place blur; words love sibilant into feeling, across the fearful maritime, far across the North Atlantic, steppes roll into deep and frigid vast nothingness; the gypsy wraps her fringed shawl tight, clasps the volume of the verse she's inscribed on desiccating pages, hurries toward the candlelight flickering from a cottage on the shore, on the "zinc-gray Baltic." Brodsky there, he pours some vodka. They read together. I open my eyes to this frozen world, my here and now emerging back from the then. Well, how do you do this? The richest tones, the most elegant and sublime stanzas, transcending my prosaic now and making me organic in the fabric you created, of language, heart, feeling, timelessness.

  3. That is beautiful and magical, Maddie. Thank you so much!