Once upon a Winter’s Night (poem)

Once upon a winter’s night—
bittersweet, sleepless,
lit by the pale light
of the blue-eyed moon—
you’ll find that your room
is a boat with white sails—
summer bound, ready—
you’ll sail away, away
to the place that has no use
for riddles, because youth
has all the answers, the place
ringing with echoes
of laughter, full of traces
etched on the golden sand.
Meet you there. I’ll stand
on the shore of that place—
so distant, so near—
where time’s but a long tress
wrapped around a girl’s
little finger, twirling, twirling…

 

Image: Ilya Yefimovich Repin, Moonlit Night at Zdravnevo (1896), oil on canvas, 143 x 90.4 cm, The National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus, Minsk. Public Domain

“Two lovers’ union…” (a sonnet)

In Vaudeville: Woman and Man on Stage

Two lovers’ union — stronger than a bond
between a mother and her child. A man
is nothing but a wretched vagabond
till he is whole with his betrothed. What can
persuade a lover, worshiping his love,
to see the presence of another king?
No, neither found inadequacies of
a “perfect” love, nor quarrels, nor the sting
of jealousy that pierces the heart
will cause a man to doubt his love — but time
and time alone will feed its apple tart
to human soul, until—in truth sublime—
a quiet revelation takes the throne:
we’re born alone, and we depart alone.

 

Image: Charles Demuth. In Vaudeville: Woman and Man on Stage, 1917. Watercolor and graphite on wove paper, Overall: 8 x 10 in. (20.3 x 25.4 cm). BF601. Public Domain.

Cold Summer (poem in Russian)

У Кирилла и Мефодия

Чёрен, чёрен белый свет,
Стынет лето, правды нет,
Кривда-матушка одна,
Да тюрьма, полным-полна,
Да по шее холодок —
Ропот, окрик, шепоток.
Время покатилось вспять,
Воздух по дворам распят,
И поруган, изгнан вон
Под сусальный перезвон,
Спас растерянный, опалый
Поправляет венчик алый.

 

Image:  © 2019 Vlad Dokshin

To the Girl in the Sunlight (poem in Russian)

Girl in the Sunlight.

Отчего ты печалишься, дальняя
незнакомка знакомая?
Может я, помогу чем-то —
словом, молчанием?
В саду твоём — солнцестояние,
лето вечное, тень резная
фатой подвенечной легла,
ты из света, тепла, руки сложены
так покойно, покорно… Может ты,
мне расскажешь, что видишь-ведаешь,
зачем в глазах грусть?
Незатейлив секрет пусть,
ты его как ларец дорогой открой —
помоги, научи, помолчи со мной.

 

Image: Girl in the Sunlight. Portrait of Maria Simonovich by Valentin Serov. 1888. Oil on canvas. The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.

Happy August

Boy and dog, starry night, Nino

I would have said,
no, we could not explain
the physics of the lightning,
or the rain,
stars galloping
across the endless sky…
I would have said,
no, we could not tell why
the world would trade its green
for gold, and fall
onto the earth
we treaded with our small
bare feet of childhood.

No, we surely could
not ever tell.
We simply understood.

 

© 2014 Sasha A. Palmer

Image: © 2015 Nino Chakvetadze, reproduced with permission.

Blind-man’s-buff (poem)

 

Group of Figures (Study for "Un dimanche à la Grande Jatte")

The sun trapped in my half-sealed eyelids, I
could not peek if I tried – the blindfold’s tight.
No need to, though – I can identify
you anytime, old friend, both day and night.

No matter where I go I’d recognize
the bitter-sweet of clover on the tongue,
the cool caress of wind, I don’t need eyes
to see you as you were, when we were young.

I hear the stillness of the hot high-noon,
and smell the earth stirred by the garden rake,
I feel the rain with all my cells, and soon
I know you, friend, I do, make no mistake.

You are my dream, my childhood, my July,
I carry with me, though I’ve left, you stay
forever in that place where you and I –
that magic place –
where blind-man’s-buff we play.

 

© 2014 Sasha A. Palmer

Image: Georges Seurat. Group of Figures (Study for “Un dimanche à la Grande Jatte”), 1884–1885. Oil on panel, Overall: 6 1/16 x 9 3/4 in. (15.4 x 24.8 cm). BF2506. Public Domain.

“Youth must be English…” (poem)

Woman in Red Blouse with Tulips

Youth must be English, for she leaves without goodbyes
You turn around and suddenly you realize
That she is gone, and she has taken summers with her
And autumn weather settles in
Where youth has been

You’re left dumbfounded, in a trance for quite a while
You wear a boyishly defiant little smile
As in the middle of July the leaves are falling
You keep refusing to believe
That she would leave

And even when you know it’s true you hope some day
Some full of summer, irresistible sun day
The day of handless clocks that keep what once was ours
The lazy hours that slowly burn
She will return

 

© 2014 Sasha A. Palmer

Image: William James Glackens. Woman in Red Blouse with Tulips, c. 1913–1914. Oil on canvas, Overall: 30 1/8 x 25 in. (76.5 x 63.5 cm). BF160. Public Domain. ©2019 Estate of William James Glackens.

“Let’s dance, it does not matter who will lead” (poem)

Flowers

Let’s dance, it does not matter who will lead.
Our song is playing, darling, let us follow
the path to summer, move our feet, no need
to worry ‘bout the steps.  Come, let us wallow
in expectations of that mid-July,
forget the wintry weather, you and I
we’ll dance away the blues. Come, hear the beat,
allow your heart to skip it once again,
indulge in days of sultry high-noon heat,
come, spin the earth until it spills the rain,
drops reasoning, and falls for happenstance…
Let’s do the same, let’s follow, let us dance.

© 2014 Sasha A. Palmer

Image: William James Glackens. Flowers, c. 1915–1916. Oil on canvas, Overall: 12 5/8 x 9 3/4 in. (32.1 x 24.8 cm). BF594. Public Domain.

“beyond the white cloud, atop the green hill…” (poem)

Boy and girl on a bench, Nino's art

We knew from the start
that the game wasn’t fair,
yet we played anyway,
pretending that childhood
would always be there,
just a bike ride away.

But where is it now?
It’s over,
over the fields of clover,
beyond the white cloud,
atop the green hill…
It is there still.

It lives in that place—
non-existent, abiding—
where it’s always July,
where cross the lush summers
two bikers are riding,
just two kids: you and I.

 

© 2014 Sasha A. Palmer

Image: © 2017 Nino Chakvetadze, reproduced with permission.

Happy July, kids, and happy 4th, America!