Steve Komarnyckyj


We were driving through the mist in Magdale
Ghosts flaring in our headlights,
The faces in the trees black

As old blood, my hand on your knees
The apple that fell soundlessly in the orchard,
They taste best my father said

Its skin still chill with dew and grass
The sweet tartness on my tongue,
A white horse rears in the headlights

My aunty scattering salt on tomaten
Stefan, you’ve hardly eaten,
The sandpaper rasp of her voice

Scraping my skin,
From somewhere in a concert hall
Where no one else is playing

The thin attenuated scream
Of a cello when my hand slipped,
The birch a smear of chalk, a wisp of steam

The country, a Rorschach blot
Tendrils of ink clouding the water
Your breath on the mirror, darling, fades out

Your hand chill as a fish in mine,
I called but you were gone,
Somewhere beyond plumes

Of sea grass, the soft
Recess of a sand dune.
The rain’s kiss on my face

Still soft and warm,
In my hands, your body
Blurred shifts of light among the birches come.



You were

A siren wails miles away
And echoes across the valley,
The wind booms through the birches

You smooth your jeans, the fabric
Clings to your thigh.
The sea

Flattens across the harbour at Whitby,
Sway. You hope they will take

An ocean of purple plumes
The waves break
In my imagination.

You tell me of the radishes,
Plump and cool in your hands
The plums,

Dropping noiselessly
Among couch grass
Summer’s tears, its flesh bombs…

Your voice whispers into the mobile
Off the coast of Norway,
I trail my hands among the purples

Of the sea.
You are miles away
I don’t want to be here

Dusk. Signals dissipating into thin air
The indigo
And waves ticking

Off Viking and Finistere.
The flowers that bear you to me
Pale as sea foam

Your soul, the shock
Of salt on my tongue
Falling away from the moon

The waves come.

Steve Komarnyckyj’s literary translations and poems have appeared in Poetry Salzburg Review, The North, and Modern Poetry in Translation. His book of translations from the Ukrainian poet Pavlo Tychyna was published by Poetry Salzburg in 2011. His translation of Vasyl Shkliar’s Ukrainian novel Raven was published in April 2013. His last book of translated poetry, A Flight Over the Black Sea was the recipent of an English PEN award in 2014. He has recently appeared in the Transatlantic Poetry Series of on air readings in an event hosted by Fjords Review.


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