I met her quite accidently, in another city.
Just saw the way she looks up valiantly,
heard her saying the sudden, mismatched
names of poets.

Talking about their lengthy ailments,
as if intentionally stirring up street noise,
her lips so sore, so bloody,
like she’d been crying or kissing all night.

Even if it’s not from tears or kisses,
or from poets’ names,
how much is it from her past relationships,
from her adult resentments and childhood secrets?

What brings about the pounding of her boots,
her triumphant laughter and apt quotations?
One way or another it’s about the man
who makes her cry and read every night.

One way or another everything comes from
the subtlest action, afternoon dreams that give her an edge.
The one who has power over her doesn’t even know
what happens to her when he glances at her.

© Serhiy Zhadan

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