Like a water-skier thrashing and banging
the lake’s surface,
you test your balance
on impossible path.
Given a choice,
I’d rather drop the line
and sink gracefully,
in perfect arabesque,
slipping through the watery mirror.
I’m ready to set my metronome
to the sluggish pulse of water lilies,
take up residency in sludge, amphibious,
invisible to predators circling above,
chain sawing the calm.
It’s time to fold the world’s chaos
back into the paper,
ripening on the table
without its tree.
There are two islands
before us. One,
littered with the garbage of lovers.
The other, undisturbed.
We could row there,
together dip our oars.
Let’s syncopate back to whole notes
with a pledge to go on feeling this:
the orchestra sounding its pitch,
trees holding back their leaves,
the first breeze of Mozart
leaving the earth.
Pushcart Prize poet, translator, a founding editor of Four Way Books, Dzvinia Orlowsky is the author of six poetry collections published by Carnegie Mellon University Press including her most recent, Bad Harvest, a 2019 Massachusetts Book Awards “Must Read” in Poetry. She is a recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Poetry Grant, a Sheila Motton Book Award, a co-recipient of a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Translation Fellowship, and her first collection, A Handful of Bees, was reprinted as part of the Carnegie Mellon University Press Classic Contemporary Series. Her translation from Ukrainian of Alexander Dovzhenko’s novella The Enchanted Desna was published by House Between Water in 2006. In 2014, her co-translation with Jeff Friedman of Memorials by Polish poet Mieczyslaw Jastrun was published by Dialogos. Her poem sequence “The (Dis)enchanted Desna” was a winner of the 2019 New England Poetry Club Samuel Washington Allen Prize, selected by Robert Pinsky. More recently, her co-translations with Ali Kinsella from the Ukrainian of Natalka Bilotserkivets’ selected poems, Eccentric Days of Hope and Sorrow, (Lost Horse Press, 2021), was a finalist for the 2022 Griffin International Poetry Prize, the 2022 Derek Walcott Poetry Prize, the ALTA 2022 National Translation Award and was winner of the 2022 AAUS Translation Prize. A book of her co-translations with Ali Kinsella from the Ukrainian of Halyna Kruk’s poetry is forthcoming from Lost Horse Press in 2024. Dzvinia is a contributing poetry editor to AGNI, Solstice Literary Magazine, and she is a Writer-in-Residence at the Solstice Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program. (updated 11/2022)
Orlowsky’s collection A Handful of Bees was reviewed in AGNI 42 by Mary Maxwell.
Orlowsky’s collection Edge of House was reviewed in AGNI 50 by Miriam O’Neal.