Olena Jennings’s recent poetry narrates travel to Georgia in the summer of 2017. Her lyric lingers between urbanness and coupling, remembering moments, and capturing an essence of absurdity.
September 2, 2017, NYC
Stray cats begged at our table, as our faces grew moist, looking up at the sun. Enclosures followed: the tight space on the plane and then the cubicle. I ignored the eclipse, the way the shadows on the pavement repeated themselves like the words that fall in steady drops, overpowering the notations on calendars and to-do lists. We wake beneath the blanket from the market near the dry bridge. Once we drove towards the light, the tires against cobblestones, the shape of the moon calling us to the rows of jewelry, the repetition of desire for translucent beads around your neck.
September 13, 2017, NYC
You gave me the key. There is a trick you didn’t teach me, though there were often lessons: the way to peel a carrot, to cut an onion without crying, and to buy carnations instead of roses. You spun daily life like the plot of one of your romance novels. Your dress is always caught in the wind even when there is only the breeze from the window. You invite the men over who leave their newspapers on the table, so that you are subject to the nightly violence. Sometimes there is even a hand against your cheek emphasizing the glow. The street signs shine green, creating a map of our memories. Together we lived in this house until you started filling the walls with other peoples’ portraits.
GHOSTS OF CATS
They prance down the hall to the studio where scent is outlawed. Making it even easier to forget the view of the lake from my window. I’m always working on the same translation, anarchy in my head and cancelled European adventures, my body already halfway there. He is shocked by the connection with his words, as if they are mine: the moment he looked up at the hall light on his way to borrow stamps and saw the world. I wake up early to caress his heart, but I know in this studio when we finally meet everything is too real to exist the way we dreamed it. There is the blue door, the water boiling for the French press, and my bare feet against the soft rug.
Olena Jennings’s collection of poetry “Songs from an Apartment” was released in 2017 by Underground Books. Her translations of poetry from Ukrainian can be found in Chelsea, Poetry International, and Wolf. She has published fiction in Joyland, Pioneertown, and Projecttile. Her novel Shut Mouth will be published in 2018. She completed her MFA in writing at Columbia and her MA focusing in Ukrainian literature at the University of Alberta.
Artist website: olenajennings.com