Cupid’s arrow – a scissors’ beak I’ve stuck into my thighs, thirty kilometers from Minsk, sunstruck.
The sun – ‘Chernobyl’ radio station. Broadcasts its radiation; is always on. The sun speaks into the tulips’ microphones.
Microphones – Viktsya sits by the cow’s udder like in a recording studio.
Record – Yanina (blind) copies sheet music from my teacher’s
songbook, Beethoven (deaf) for Accordion, into my
Xerox – unavailable in the empire, prized like a spacecraft.
Musical staff (according to the music teacher) – not Yanina’s kitchen shelves.
Unacceptable to reshelf
at liberty, to adjust music pitch like
Music teacher – a beautiful woman, furious like Beethoven’s hair.
Musical staff (according to Yanina) – rows of plank beds in the northern barracks.
‘Notes are the bodies. Rounded and flattened by day’s labour, either utterly dark or insanely empty inside. This is what makes music so poignant, so painful.’
Notes, also (according to Yanina) – ladles.
Beethoven: ‘Music should strike fire in the heart of man, and bring tears to the eyes of woman.’
Yanina to Beethoven: ‘So music is a family brawl?’
Notes (according to the music teacher) – ladles full of water Yanina dumps onto
My heart – on fire with fury every time the music teacher trashes Yanina’s
blind copying. I despise and secretly envy Beethoven for having
nothing to do with plank beds in the northern barracks.
A daily source of Beethoven – ‘Chernobyl’ radio station. Also, the joy of summer
My mission: I combat gamma rays with music scales.
Yanina tucks notes into the plank beds of music staff.
On one of them, she recognises her old husband.
Her blindness blurs all features into the ovals of notes.
The cow chews rib-grass but there is no cow.
Birds shred the clouds with their dull beaks.
The woods are thin
like soup. Men live
only on photographs,
old women are old women.
They lock in dentures. They log
glasses onto hooked noses. They hook
themselves into forklifting bras,
secure kerchief’s with sailor’s knots
and thus, protected more thoroughly than first responders,
they curse their hens and pigs as if they had
hens and pigs.
A rooster’s call,
quick like a vaccine shot.
The scissor’s beak is as far as a cupid’s arrow gets here.
I fall in love with music she is copying
in search of a gone and barracked, familiar face.