All original work © 2009 - 2017 Alexey Provolotsky

30 August 2016

16


SIXTEEN


Remember how I sent you a flower
and you wrote to me that it was not a flower
but a bird that flew into your window
when you were sixteen and sitting on the chair
cutting those tiny figures from paper
that you said were a pale shadow
of what Matisse did in his dying days
when he was in France and bedridden
and visited by Picasso who himself in those days
was but an old man with wrinkles
the size of your beautiful cutouts
that included all sorts of creatures
that your vivid imagination produced by night
but also by day
when Mildred sent you to work in the post-office
where your job was so boring
that you sometimes fell asleep and they woke you up
(the senseless animals that they were)
with a new pile of envelopes
which you had to disassemble
into a bunch of separate groups
that were later picked up by local postmen
who were so angry when you 'dared' to make a mistake
 that they called you all those cruel names
which you could never repeat
not even to yourself
but in fact they were madly in love with you
even Mr. Fonstein who you once told me
had this enormous collection
of Playboy postcards
at the bottom of his black leather bag
that he was so proud of
as this bag (he claimed)
came from his great-grandfather
who had built the post office a few million years
before you put your pretty little foot in it
and then got bored by the routine
that made you think of all those creatures
that were by turns fascinating and absolutely ghastly
and made you scream at night
much to the discomfort of Mildred
 who had all those lovers sleeping with her
and who may have been so disturbed by the noise
they jumped out of bed right in the midst of it
and never came back to Mildred
who would in the morning ruin your breakfast
by making a scene or just telling you off
for being such a ‘spoilt and selfish little brat’
and for destroying her life
which had really been destroyed ages ago
 when she had worked in the house of Mrs. Kitts
that spooked us so much every time we passed it
in those three weeks that we spent together
and that I could never forget
and wished to substitute with something new
but failed miserably and instead came back
time and time again to those wild gasps of pleasure
 that added some strange spice to our walks
and filled them with the understatement
we could barely expect the night
when I walked up to you
after that strange Bergman film
that you watched with some lanky idiot
who yawned in the middle of it
and whom you subsequently dumped
with such phenomenal ease
that I felt you had a list of idolaters
that stretched way beyond London
where you only came for a day
and would later return home
and I would think that was it, really, but in fact
you replied and subsequently
I found out about how awkward you were
and yet how spontaneous and electrifying
and my God how disorganised your handwriting was
 and how many nights I spent trying to read those
 bizarre scriptures that never contained 'I love you'
or even 'I miss you'
and instead concentrated on what you thought
of this or that film, book, record
and so walking by the house of Mrs. Kitts
was an erotic experience so strong
that it welled up inside us until it finally happened
and we released it by the cherry tree
near the place where I was staying
because Mildred disliked me with a jealous passion
and because I had the money from the military
that could sustain me for those three weeks
before I had to get back to the front
yet I was no longer scared because I had you
you who were so sensitive as to never mention death
 in your letters except maybe indirectly
when you asked me to be cautious
and not to attempt any courage
because otherwise you would cut me out of paper
(which you did in the end)
and hang me over the window
alongside all those dreadful creatures
from your nightmares that nothing could cure
except for a small flower I sent you
before they assigned me to my final mission
and that flew into your window as a bird
of which you told me in your last letter?

Yes, I did receive it,
and yes, you were only sixteen at that time,
and innocent, and too immersed in life to know
that one day
one night
we would really meet.