Bezdelki by Carol Rumens
In Carol Rumens’s Bezdelki, small things help to shore up the memory of a life. These elegies, written in memory of Yuri Drobyshev, explore the principle that death, even for atheists, isn’t purely loss.
Instead, a kind of conversation between two people can be continued through willed acts of memory, whether by rooting through incidental artefacts found in a toolbox (‘defiant old metals, coupled/irrefutably and awkwardly for life’) or by revisiting works of Russian literature that both members of the couple admired.
Translations and imitations of Osip Mandelstam share space with fragments of Egyptian mythology and ‘a wardrobe of old sweat-shirts’ to convey the powerful, and moving, impulse to ‘live with your death unburied at my core’.