It is mind-boggling to think that I have lived in the United States for 12 years now. It is equally strange to tell myself (and other people) that since then, I have been back to Russia, my home country, only once. It was 10 years ago. And it is sad to admit that I am not even sure when I will be there next time.
Do I want to go back? If I really really wanted to, I would find a way. It would be a lie to say that I do not care about the country where I spent the first 27 years of my life. I do not want to live there right now. But if I had a magical teleportation machine, I would certainly love to revisit places when I once was so happy and so sad. I only I could...
But wait! There is a way. I can teleport myself to all those places in my nightdreams. These visions have a strange relationship with my memory. Over the years, I discovered that dreams took over. Now I am not even sure whether I remember correctly all the streets where I used to walk. Perhaps what I "remember" is just a figment of my imagination? When I first came to the United States, for the first few weeks I had a lingering feeling that I was in a movie. When (if) one day I go back to Russia, it will probably seem that I found myself in a very very long dream.
This poem is about the impossibility of returning to the past of a place and of the self. All of us have experienced a version of this feeling, no matter whether we are immigrants or just moved to a different part of the same country. One day we all discover that it is impossible to stop the clock, to go back to where and who we once were. This realization does not have to be painful. There are always memories to treasure and things to look forward to.
*Watch the video above to hear me read this poem to the beautiful music created by Maarten Schellekens.
One day, I will return…
No, this is not the right word.
Means coming to a place where I once was.
But it does not exist because
My memory has turned it into rain...
Let’s try again:
One morning, when I walk
Along the streets that bear deceptively familiar names,
Some even hiding echos of my childhood games,
I’ll look into the eyes of buildings that will seem
So real yet hard to grasp,
Like an unfinished dream.
Let’s try again:
One evening, when I step
Onto the floating island of my past,
So infinite and yet confined,
Packed tightly in the nutshell of my head.
Will I be home at last?
Will I be whole at last?
Let’s try again:
If I could choose
Of all the places that my memory holds,
Where would I go?
Of the old park where I once learned
To find birds’ nests and mushrooms under trees
And where, on a hidden path,
A sculpture of a giant’s head
Teased me with mysteries.
I think this time I got it right:
When I am old and when my head is light,
I’ll dream myself next to the giant’s face
Half-buried in the middle of the path.
I will remove, as one takes off a robe,
The layers of years and skin
And will emerge
Among soft shades of leaves, a child again,
Ready to soak in the gentle sun,
Forgetting what my older self has done.
The journey’s over. I’ll stay there
Letting warm breeze play with my hair.
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I often use this blog to share new or updated entries of my hypertext projects. If you see several versions of the same entry published over time, the latest version is the most updated one.