An Etruscan sarcophagus 
350 BCE

A dark slab in the museum.
Two side by side on a stone bed –
as if they were simply sleeping in,
rather than as they are, dead.

Under his extended arm,
forgotten, the passage of centuries,
but a certain willed, urgent calm,
eternal rest in measureless ease.

For a love that lies awake forever,
for those two in their rare embrace,
under their heavy coverlet
a tender night softer than the dust.



This face endures a secret subtraction
from each of its lines.
The hard outline shows through it,
some corner or other, the fifth or sixth.

There is an obvious limit for disturbed
or uneasy voices: there is no road past them.
The frontal bone, hostage to its thought,
the fabric of bone knows a direct answer.



The birds are silent 
A heavy shadow in a smoke-obscured thicket.
The day overmastered by a gloomy nightfall.
Darkness advances, with an intoxicating chill.
Reflected twilight lingers at the edge of a cloud.
Who could know better than I, who have never been merciful.


Mikhail Aizenberg

(Moscow, 1948)

More poems here 




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