Mother washes our hair with olive soap.
She gives each child a fig; we are going
on a journey.
We roll out onto the landscape like waterways –
by the second roll of the dice, we have
already split into forked plans
the first son to the right, the second to
the left, and so on and so forth, because
there are too many seas.
I follow chickadees, chickpeas, go kiss
the Kush – unafraid of pomegranate
deflagrations, so many roofs.
I travel on horseback, befriend costumes,
steal an apple, boast a salmon or two. Every
day brings a dry boat on the shrinking lake.
I follow the border, never quite making it
to cloudberries, balalaikas, my violin
tuned to the cries of wolves.
Behind the neat rows of silver birches,
there is a civilisation: a strange soup of beef
and beetroot, a midsummer bonfire of bravery.
Caspian, Black or Mediterranean; no sea
wants itself as a home. I capsize boats.
I take an oath to the wrong god,
another one, another one, and wrong.
I worship the catfish, redshank and leave
a tail of carefully decorated tombstones.
I am searching for my brother. He might
be hiding in these crooked woods, behind
the bridge, the public bath, the deserted,
the summer house. I am searching for
my brother – he looks just like a little red
wooden horse, have you seen him?
Perhaps in the Baltic. Perhaps in the attic
of an old merchant’s house on the cold
waterfront. And even if I did
find him, what would we say to each other?