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Before the blossoming of sakura

Translated from Ukrainian by Luba Gawur


to be selected among the chosen
that permeated with the odor of hissing sheep
that with an embroidered thread will be woven
the river’s shadow, grafted onto the face and neck
so as to incessantly jerk at the earth

so that for all who huddle beneath the snow
these Japanese cheek-bones and street-stones
time that we borrowed as debt
is returned to us by a Japanese god
and for the children—a fried pastry for each

to smell of snow and cinnamon
of sakura blossom tea—tsunami
with a black belt—samurai style—
as though round the forehead,
islands wrap tin hieroglyphs of death

only for the dogs who survived and surfaced
the coastal submersion cross-stitched a landscape
of stark desolation and metal
ships beneath bridges—and then there
occurred a communion with prophetic verses

all the ends in these verses with beginnings
with seven golden seal-imprints
the earthen globe and the ring with water—
and the firmament and into the tsunami—death leads them
leaving alive a cherubim

the hovering helicopter hangs for deliverance
dangling the echo of a traditional ritual
above the water now quiescent and carrying
the angel in a boat without oars
the last of the survivors perchance

wave sweeps against shore and slaps against sleeve
cliff cracks, and river disappears
a train derails from drowned tracks
the helicopter encircling in spirals
vanishes beyond the mountain
and evaporates in the mist

a white heron like a mark on the face
in the palm—the white rice for this day
and the detector scanning the body
and the waif by the wayside, wearily squatting
with arms holding—like fish fins folding



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