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The Elephants

Enter Ghost

Genya Turovskaya

Enter ghost

Enter occupying army of ghosts

Troops on the march, thrumming convoys on the marsh

Enter the drumming heart

Enter the heave and ho and heave
of migrant massing clouds

The teeming host of fat and frantic moths
obscuring the white orb of the sun

If the sun is a storm I will stand at the gate
with knock knock jokes and riddles:

What leaves without leaving?
Never having left returns?

And knocks and knocks and knocks its fist
against a hot pursuit?

Enter Ghost-of-Honor
Unburden yourself of your heavy mantle

Lay down your geiger counter

O Friend-of-my-Heart

Enter welcoming parade

The hoarse chorus of actors

The trained bears tottering on hind legs

Bleating goats



Orphan beggars

Wasp-waisted bull jumpers

The wild-eyed bulls

Enter the bare-knuckle fighters barreling their chests

Enter widow’s husband

Widower’s wife

If the sun is a storm of gasses and moth dust and flame, then the stutter
and spray of fire in the sky is a body dispersing

Its dust-light

Enter the mother

The embracing mother of all arms

The mother of all bombs

The round mythic mother of our celestial origin

Enter ghost, shuffling, unsettling the dust from the surface of things

I would recognize it by its voice, its whistle, its wheeze, by its favorite vice,
by its musk, by the singular thump-tap-tap-thump of its gait

Would it know me in kind?
By the same?

The sun cuts a low winter arc

If the sun is dust is the sum of all broken things

What is lost?

What fractured vessel of what old idea?

If the stars themselves are the fluorescing ghosts of dead suns

I stand at the gate and knock and knock

The moths peripheral, uneasy echoes against the graying
caverns of the sky

And in love, where do the ghosts go?
Do we make space in our selves for the ghosts of the other?
Do they enter us “at first sight”?
Do they hover?
Are they in our bodies, in the way that we touch and make love, in the way we fuck?
In the way we flinch, shrink, grow hard-eyed, go blank?
Are the ghosts the ones opening our mouths, holding our tongues, pulling the strings? Jerking us forward, back, awake in the middle of night?

OK, I will receive your ghosts

My ghosts have been instructed of the proper protocols

They are polishing the silver, pinning roses to their boutonnieres, rolling up their fluttering and empty sleeves 

Enter revisers of maps, the vanquishers and vanishers of nations,
the last of the natives, tenacious linguists of the dead and dying
languages. Enter the retouchers that touch and touch and touch
deep into the private life of identifying markers, touching out the eyes
with gauges of rectangular black.
Enter revisionists,

the preoccupied and unreliable narrators
of their own dreams. Enter the red hoods
of the Grand Inquisitors, the Little Reds, the riders, enter the winders
of clocks, the professional rewinders and the amateur
pornographers, ravelers of spools of magnetized tape. Enter the creamy lingering musk of
ghosting lovers, the nostalgic apologists, atrocity-deniers,
the long-winded bores. Enter the place names of displaced persons.
Enter the wind, or the wind whistling loose the clinging leaves
in a copse of trees into which enter stampeding
boars, wild, brilliant-eyed, rooting
with their tusked snouts in the black loam of a thought. Enter a thought,

scraping its cuneiform against the scrub of time 

Dreams mutate and the mutiny of dreams dismantles
the house I live in

And the breeze stirs the soot and wing heaps and papery husks
in its unswept corners, on its sills

Moths collide, concussed, reeling and falling
Like wide receivers, like lovers

Dull and dazed

The moths too have been spent by their fervor and lust

The hoarse chorus sings

I am young and wild

I am older and quieter

I have loosened the slip knots

I am at last

Swimming into the pour and sluice of the humming human tide,
shouldering deep into its intention, the hive’s low and insistent buzz

Enter the terminal stages, the last hurrah, the long

Its twisting blade

The doubled double bind

Enter the low winter sun, the tattered, stirring dusty little song
gusting its small dry lungs

The chorus sings

Not yet not yet not yet

I need to be able to know that I was here

Is the gate open? Or is it closed?

Which side of the gate am I on?

Genya Turovskaya is a poet, translator, and psychotherapist. She was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and grew up in New York City. She is the author of the chapbooks Calendar (Ugly Duckling Presse), The Tides (Octopus Books), New Year's Day (Octopus Books), and Dear Jenny (Supermachine). Her work has appeared in Chicago Review, Conjunctions, A Public Space, Octopus, Asymptote, PEN Poetry, Fence, Sangam House Poetry, and other publications. She is the translator of Aleksandr Skidan's Red Shifting, and co-translator of Elena Fanailova's The Russian Version (both Ugly Duckling Presse). She is also a co-translator of Arkadii Dragomoshchenko's Endarkenment: Selected Poems (Wesleyan).

This originally appeared on December 24, 2017