Irina Mashinski

A Sketch

The Guest by Azam Atakhanov

They leave – and then don’t leave,
tawny, they fall
but pause. At noon
Jonathan Schwartz says: Here is Sinatra.

They leave
and write their letters, postcards –
each rusty leaf
alive, et cetera.

They linger, want to stay,
and give a reason – a remark, a notion,
or, say, regret, or
explanation. For

December comes and nothing to explain
or bear

or let alone to love,
but footsteps on the snow
or radio –
thin threads in cracked air.


About the writer:
Irina Mashinski was born in Moscow. She is co-editor of The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry (Penguin Classics, 2015) and of the Cardinal Points Journal, and co-translator of Lev Ozerov’s Portraits Without Frames (NYRB, 2018). She is the author of ten books of poetry (in Russian). Her first English- language collection, The Naked World, is forthcoming from Spuyten Duyvil.

Image: The Guest by Azam Atakhanov. Oil on canvas. 110 x 170 cm. 2011. By permission. Azam Atakhanov is the O:JA&L Featured Fine Artist for June 2019.