By Andrey Gritsman

The world was glistening inside my soft universe

in the filigreed web of warmth,

pulsating and feeding my unborn hopes,

tentacles of attachments, frustrations, death.


I could have been a father, a sister,

carpenter, savior, the judge, an executioner.

My actuarial survival

was not yet registered.

The winds of unknowing

caressed my mother’s skin.

And the pain was vanishing


because I did not exist anymore.

I was not accounted for.

And still, brothers and sisters,

we were bonded and floating together

in the shared hardship.

For only you could appreciate

my gift to you:

my silent grace, the gentle beauty, dignity

and what I would not have done to the world.


And remember, there are others

for whom not only I

but also you

are a mistake.


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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