Prague river Photo: shutterstock / Momo_46

15th March 2022


1 minute read

Marie Iljašenko

come closer

translated by Nathan Fields

15th March 2022

1 minute read

at the swimming spot you meet bodies marked by birthing,

bearded vaginas, viral rashes on thighs (your own),

gold chains and shame. swimming holes understand inclusion, not epiphany:

you can sharpen your claws on them all day, but never wash away

the tiredness and dust of the city (thus the showers)

chlorinated water loses all its power.


the city in summer is different than in the rest of the seasons

as if undergoing its toughest test.

I tell it: I will tie you around my neck like a noose,

I will place you on my tongue like a pea, for decades

you were like a stranger until I stepped into your river

on stairs of grass and limestone rock.


the slow current carried me from hradčany towards libeň,

carnivorous angels circled me on the way,

in the marketplace on the opposite bank the biennial was ending;

I had been invited there as a foreigner – on the poster it said: come closer!

but I could not come closer, I was right in the center of the city,

in the neighborhood of nutrias and mussels, river vermin,

in the city district of underwater plants.

written by

Marie Iljašenko

More about the author

Issue 01


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translated by

Nathan Fields

More about the translator


come closer by Marie Iljašenko
Ukranian poet Marie Iljasenko explores themes of belonging and foreignness in poems which draw on her experiences as both a cultural insider and outsider.