Joseph Brodsky

 

 

A Song
I wish you were here, dear,
I wish you were here.
I wish you sat on the sofa
And I sat near.
The handkerchief could be yours,
the tear could be mine, chin-bound.
Though it could be, of course,
the other way around.
I wish you were here, dear,
I wish you were here.
I wish we were in my car,
and you'd shift the gear.
We'd find ourselves elsewhere,
on an unknown shore.
Or else we'd repair
to where we've been before.
I wish you were here, dear,
I wish you were here.
I wish I knew no astronomy
when stars appear,
when the moon skims the water
that sighs and shifts in its slumber.
I wish it were still a quarter
to dial your number.
I wish you were here, dear,
in this hemisphere,
as I sit on the porch
sipping a beer.
It's evening, the sun is setting;
boys shout and gulls are crying.
What's the point of forgetting
if it's followed by dying?
&
To Urania
Everything has its limit, including sorrow.
A windowpane stalls a stare. Nor does a grill abandon
a leaf. One may rattle the keys, gurgle down a swallow.
Loneless cubes a man at random.
A camel sniffs at the rail with a resentful nostril;
a perspective cuts emptiness deep and even.
And what is space anyway if not the
body's absence at every given
point? That's why Urania's older sister Clio!
in daylight or with the soot-rich lantern,
you see the globe's pate free of any bio,
you see she hides nothing, unlike the latter.
There they are, blueberry-laden forests,
rivers where the folk with bare hands catch sturgeon
or the towns in whose soggy phone books
you are starring no longer; father eastward surge on
brown mountain ranges; wild mares carousing
in tall sedge; the cheeckbones get yellower
as they turn numerous. And still farther east, steam dreadnoughts or cruisers,
and the expanse grows blue like lace underwear.
&
From nowhere with love the enth of Marchember sir
sweetie respected darling but in the end
it's irrelevant who for memory won't restore
features not yours and no one's devoted friend
greets you from this fifth last part of earth
resting on whalelike backs of cowherding boys
I loved you better than angels and Him Himself
and am farther off due to that from you than I am from both
of them now late at night in the sleeping vale
in the little township up to its doorknobs in
snow writhing upon the stale
sheets for the whole matter's skin-
deep I'm howling "youuu" through my pillow dike
many seas aways that are milling nearer
with my limbs in the dark playing your double like
an insanity-stricken mirror.
&
Not that I am losing my grip: I am just tired of summer.
Your reach for a shirt in a drawer and the day is wasted.
If only winter were here for snow to smother
all these streets, these humans; but first, the blasted
green. I would sleep in my clothes or just pluck a borrowed
book, while what's left of the year's slack rhythm,
like a dog abandoning its blind owner,
crosses the road at the usual zebra. Freedom
is when you forget the spelling of the tyrant's name
and your mouth's saliva is sweeter than Persian pie,
and though your brain is wrung tight as the horn of a ram
nothing drops from your pale-blue eye.

&
If anything's to be paised, it's most likely how
the west wind becomes the east wind, when a frozen bough
sways leftward, voicing its creaking protests,
and your cough flies across the Great Plains to Dakota's forests.
At noon, shouldering a shotgun, fire at what may well
be a rabbit in snowfields, so that a shell
widens the breach between the pen that puts these limping
awkward lines and the creature leaving
real tracks in the white. On occasion the head combines
its existence with that of a hand, not to fetch more lines
but to cup an ear under the pouring slur
of their common voice. Like a new centaur.