Pavel Tayber made these illustrations while reading my poems.
Sasha Nemirovsky. Mama The First Day

So, is it all the same, what poems say?
They could be called a way of setting sail
In a little boat of rhyme-sealed lines.
Picking up the desirable as central,
Remembering God created the world at night.
The handwriting
Thus read a little worse.
Before the universe
First sounded, its rhyme had life.
The boat, experience heaped in its containers,
Maneuvers to clear the reefs
Of the intellectual.
Soaking paper at least beats miring in silt.
In the still zero hour, the first sound amounts to the endless.
Then the first word to soften, melt,
Is the first-ever dawn. The first-ever goal
The ageless.
The dying sound — all's built —
Decays as light for the cosmos. Trills
For birds aren't yet complete,
Or else that part would enter.
The boat still has nowhere to moor.
You and I still have no bodies.
But the start is sure.

(translated by James Manteith)

Sasha Nemirovsky Mebius


I'll learn to read the words of holy earth —
That rock pierced by the progress of that tree.
A kitten groveling in the dirt,
Above it, in a frame of cyclery,
Swarthy legs pump by instead of walking,
Ferrying a business-minded Bedouin.
Sending my hand speeding to my pocket's
Wallet bump.
Blares all around, equally unmoved
By prophet or pedestrian.
Gazing down, from ages high — they look alike,
But who can
See this from a side perspective?

So, vulgarly,
Clad in the mask of someone else's soul,
I, shielded by a skullcap or a wide-brim,
March behind a praying man, appalled,
Imagining I'll disobey the threshold,
Stride across. That the lid
Of time, the valve of passage there,
Will barricade the exit,
With any thought of seeking retrogression
Futile then.
And so mankind, humanity's raw ore,
Transitions into spirit, into prayer and into rubble, gone.
Within, words manifest — holy specks.

(translated by James Manteith)

Sasha Nemirovsky Poetry

New Zealand Landscape

Navigating the asphalt of Zealand,
You reconceive the extent of the planet
And its orbital motion. Arriving mantled
In work's torridly sewn fabric
Of distractions,
You change into a swimsuit.
Northern latitudes
Serve solely for review
Of finances in paying off the house
Where you quarter,
Since here the heads of sheep and cattle Have the people markedly outnumbered.

You peer in wonder at a Milky Way
Of worms, phosphorescent,
Who live in the darkness of caves,
Where the silence and the vaults don't suffocate.
And marvel at waterfall rivulets
Rocketing through a gorge's funnel.
At April
Out in Queenstown,
Found yellow and green with pyramids of poplars.
You pause to have a cookie or a brownie
With a cup of latte
By a lake where an embarking
Steamboat won't be seen redocking.

Because you're a onetime guest
With the prospect of a motel
A hundred kilometers southward.
And it's long past time for rolling out of April
To a May of fjords, the lever grasped
For shifting speeds, with inferred
This time is brief.
That is, impressions dense within time's unit.
One wants to spend a lifetime near these places, yes.
But that much
Lies beyond one generation's limit.

(translated by James Manteith)

Sasha Nemirovsky Time-Bear The 49-er

A little gold-rush burg
Rezoned with offices for high technology.
The spur
Of a mountain. Parking spaces.
Electric transportation, its nose hitched to a rack —
Feeding through a wire.
An archway.
A cute little old library,
A sight that triggers
Memories of books as means of contact
With the primal culture of a bygone century.

The miner, no veteran of loneliness,
Fidgets with an iPhone —
But switches to computer
When this grows unbearable.
As background, on the screen
Floats an ever-open chat.
Oblivious to handwriting,
He scribbles with his thumbs.
Vision queasy,
Head reeling as if inhaling fumes.

Tourist wanderers,
Chitter-chatter snapshots
Of Victorian facades
Contrasting with the signs of global firms.
A bay. A port. High-rises.
An action film.

A hero. Of course, the hero fights alone.
Noble. Undefeatable.
Seen somewhere already.
A plot persuasively
Passing through a point that's known
As no-return,
The chase of golden quarry.

(translated by James Manteith)