Poetry at Sangam



from DEAR JENNY by Genya Turovskaya

Dear Jenny, I want to go slower, I want to be a pedestrian,
kill the engine, abandon the vehicle. It stalls
and sputters and goes still, this machine. And still
                                                               I am driving: I drive
through the toll plaza, over the bridge, through the palisades, down
the coastal highway, I am driving toward the island, toward the sea and the seaside hotel
on the island. The resort lights flicker, the waves are waving, I am arriving, the festive flags
                                                              flutter up and fall.
I let the motor idle, I walk
toward the hotel, I ring the little bell, but the hotel by the sea is empty.
The crab shacks are empty. The boardwalk and the carnival rides creak
          in the empty wind.
I circle the carousel, I stroke the lacquered muzzles of the ponies, I trace their horsy teeth
with my hand, then their painted eyes, and the air seems slower to me, and the heave
of the tide seems slower to me, and I feel myself slowly
swimming against the steady progress of the sea, and the sea is empty
                                      of tumult, empty even of myself. It is moving
and not moving. I am moving my arms and my legs, I am clutching the reigns, I am driving
                        toward the sea
and away from it, I am swimming
up the down escalator, I’m confused, Jenny, were there camels
on the carousel, were there saddled goats grazing in the dune grass, and were you there,
                                                                       in the car, waiting with the windows down,
talking on your phone? I couldn’t make it out
over the radio, what you were saying, and that song
I can’t get out of my head now, or was it the voice on the radio and not
your voice that I heard? The escalator was descending into the underground mall,
it was closing time, there was no one there, the shoppers
had folded their umbrellas, gathered their things and dispersed over the dunes long ago.
I’m not the poet here, but it’s a feeling I’m trying to get at: the escalator, and the sea,
                                                                         and you, Jenny.
I forgot you and then I remembered, I remembered
everything just how it was. And then I forgot. This feeling,
                                                          do you know it? You can describe it
                                           better than me.