A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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June 2005, vol 1 no 1

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Zinovy Vayman, USA


Haibun for Genrick Sapgir

family picture
parents smile,
not the baby

When I read books to my daughter sometimes I wonder where her spirit was before she was conceived. I imagine the infinity of the Universe and get frightened.

On one of those books the author's incongruous name is printed "GENRIKH SAPGIR". Definitely a Jewish guy, I decide.

The majority of the half million of Moscow Jews have German, Polish or even Russian last names. The author's name is so Hebrew that it cannot be recognized as a Jewish one even by experienced human resources officers who have a task to discriminate against Jews.

Tverskoy Boulevard
rain puddles
we sweep by the broom

Twenty-five years later he is a star of the First Moscow Festival of Poets.

summer ’99
the evergreen Kremlin dome
painted dark brown

Genrikh Sapgir walks with a cane and reads his lucid incantations. "The language pronounces us", he says. And he rhymes:

I wake, I shave, I knot my tie
I won't notice that I will die

These particular lines strike me. A month later we accidentally meet at the new Turgenev Library. I make a compliment to him. He smiles. A week later Radio Liberty announces his sudden death.

autumn deepens
falling asleep
into the sense of the void


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