By Andrey Gritsman


We’ll build a new room,

upstairs with a skylight

so the tree branches can reach the transparent cube

of the sealed air, where we live.

After we die, the room

will keep the draft of our light

movements until the late

fall when the snowflakes

touch their reflections on the panes.


Or else let’s build the room on the main floor,

extend the porch or dining room, the kitchen,

so all of them can come and stay with us

and make suggestions, scrutinize every move we make:

changing plates around the table,

pouring more wine and apologizing,

apologizing, until we die and the new room

is obsolete. Because what’s the point

of their coming if we are dead.

They’d go somewhere else and the future generations

will carry proudly the simmering bowl

of the warm hospitality and unconditional acceptance.

Until they die too.


Or maybe it’s better

to finish the basement, fix the plumbing,

and build this room there, without windows,

so nobody could look inside.


After we are done we’ll open a bottle

of champagne and laugh and put

the half‑empty glasses on the laundry machine

that handles rhythmically all the things

from everybody way back,

who’d lived or stayed here

until they grew up, left or died until                                                              

only the machine would be working

as long as there is electricity until the first

December snow blizzard hits, when the thruway

is closed, the lines are down,

even the emergency broadcast is over and

the only way I can hear you is

when I am alone in the room

talking to myself.


A native of Moscow, I emigrated to the United States in 1981. I am a physician who is also a poet and essayist. I have published five volumes of poetry in Russian. I received the 2009 Pushcart Prize Honorable Mention XXIII and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize several times (2005–2011), and also was on the Short List for PEN American Center Biennial Osterweil Poetry Award. My poems, essays, and short stories in English have appeared or are forthcoming in over 60 literary journals, including Amarillo Bay, Left Curve, Nimrod International Journal, Sanskrit, Blue Mesa, Confrontation, Cimarron Review, Euphony, The Fourth River, Absinthe: New European Writing, Hotel Amerika, Mad Hatter’s Review, New Orleans Review, Notre Dame Review, Wisconsin Review, Studio One, Denver Quarterly, Hawaii Review, Hunger Mountain, Permafrost, A Gathering of the Tribes, Poet Lore, Poetry International, Puerto del Sol, Reed Magazine, Richmond Review (London), Fortnight (N. Ireland, UK), Landfall (New Zealand), Ars Interpres (Stockholm, Sweden), The South Carolina Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, Harpur Palate, Tampa Review, Texas Review, Verdad, and The Writer’s Chronicle. My work has also been anthologized in Modern Poetry in Translation (UK), Crossing Centuries (New Generation in Russian Poetry), The Breath of Parted Lips: Voices from the Robert Frost Place, Stranger at Home: American Poetry with an Accent, Visions International, and in Killer Verse: Poems on Murder and Mayhem.

I received my MFA in poetry from Vermont College. I run the Intercultural Poetry Series in a popular literary club, Cornelia Street Café, in New York City.

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