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where quiet does not calm but claims,
a sound-absorbing shell forbidding
the comfort of even a doctor’s footsteps
on a shiny linoleum floor. Lighting altered
to lose all sense of time, silence deeper
than any in the Arctic, the Urals.
Cosmonauts, bereft of their Pushkin,
their Ukrainian folksongs, stifling
the urge to cry out, sound of nothing
like icy waves giving way to flames.
Lack of chirping cricket, scurrying mouse,
lonesome wail of a factory whistle, gurgling
and splashing of a rising Volga River.
Siberian silence—two inseparable sisters
announcing they’re no longer speaking.
Echo-less room where books, palette,
paintbrush, pencil and paper are forbidden.
It might be a day, days, a week or more
(they never say). Minute by minute,
1-2-3, eyes on me, silence morphing
to a deafening let me out! Every ounce
of will to keep one’s mind: Poyekahli!
(“Off we go!”), to rise in a trembling rocket,
gaze on a glittering sickle, one’s home an orb.
To, awestruck, orbit, become a cloud
of racing fire, then roll three times
through waving wheat, land face first
in a field never smelling so sweet.