A Rose on Kostenka Street
Someone dropped you (a rose,) on Коstenka street:
I found you while I tramped the crunchy road,
As I skidded on Karaganda sidewalk-sleet,
Down the snowy, boot-printed lane,
Shivers slinging from my shoulders like cloudfuls of snowflakes,
Dark morning dripping gloom everywhere.
Here by the roadside you have been cast:
A stiff, stark, thorny stalk,
Papery leaves loathe to unfold
Tattered and stiff as threadbare silk
Nipped bright green by the cold:
I found you sleeping on a snowbed white as milk,
Frigid, frost-laminated, a secret untold.
A frosty blossom encrusted with diamonds
Is the crown at the top of your stem.
A whole world of ice clings to your pale petals,
Sparkling clear like frosty glass in the predawn light.
Who dropped you here? Who was the discarder,
Of a rose perfectly preserved in hoary diamond armor?
Maybe once she beamed at your bright blooms
Quenched your thirsting roots with water,
Sweet-handedly smoothed back each spiny leaf,
Earnestly acknowledged the prick of every thorn.
Memory of that life wears you withered and worn:
Nostalgia eats at your sepal, gnaws holes in your heart.
You grew up ignorant of forest meadows,
Waived your claim to a wildflower’s place,
All so you could stand a short time plump and rich inside a vase,
If only you knew how dear would be the price!
The one who loved you was untrue:
Sweet hands and smiles long since have abandoned you.
She who kissed you once and called you lovely
Turned from friend to enemy in an instant-
With one casual flick of the wrist
You were cast from pedestal to poverty.
Cruel that one of the fair floral-kind
Should be so carelessly murdered.
Spears of frost that fortified you
Demolish and wreck you now from within;
The very ice-armor that kept you safe
Turns enemy and tears your flesh to gore
So much now is ice that you’re hardly a flower anymore.
Diamonds dissolve in your center, hissing like acid jewels
Frost-slime rains down in slippery storms
And huddles around you in listless pools.
No solace here from cruel-mouthed winds:
You’re left to die, wondering at what could have been your sins.
Sadly, you reflect on cruelty, greed and human hate,
To perish a frostbitten beauty is your bleak winter fate.
Though sound; steadfast your crystal beauty seems
Your ice-castle walls are transient and soon will melt and fade;
Yet you shall bloom again, in glowing garden dreams,
A rose shining rich and red forever, in a lucid forest glade.
Bittersweet is your time-capsuled beauty;
You are a prisoner pinned in venomous ice,
A flowery captive caught frozen in time.
Love may have failed you, unfortunate flower.
But you brightened my dark morning;
Performed one last brave deed of beauty:
Through frigid ice my soul was touched by your power.
Bright in daybreak’s wan winter light,
You cast a light for my spirit in that chilly hour,
The desolate likeness of your blossomy corpse
Lives on immortal, etched like eternal ink into my inner sight.
Determined inside an instant to become your savior
To the rescue I come, kicking up a tiny snowstorm in my hurry,
Baffling pedestrians with my rash behavior.
Grateful, I pluck you up from your cold coffin, caress blue petals,
Strain to soothe your shredded stem,
Pinch skeletal shadows from the your leafy veins,
Brush ice shackles away even as the black stain settles:
Your body wilts as if wounded by stinging nettles:
Too late-you are dead already, slain by a thousand icy pains.
I stand in the middle of a snowbank in the street
For a moment nothing matters, not time or work or wealth,
All I can see are tears, spilled for failing to nurse a rose to health.
Floral spirit enduring beyond the slash of winter’s potent knife,
I wish I could give you the feeling you died to give to me,
In your death you revealed to me the beauty of your life.
You made me alive inside again, set my frozen heart free.
This sweet gift from your death I accepted in haste,
I will see that your sacrifice shall not go to waste.
Deep into you I breathe one final breath:
Breath I know that is, alas, but folly;
The diamond fortress defending you will melt,
Bringing your tragedy’s numb finale,
With your thawing comes your death:
Floral perfection tainted by winter melancholy.
more by Lëaf Ednïwinga
photograph by Daria Shevtsova