The End of Verse

Igor Rybak

From Issue 1

While looking up the word marmalade in the dictionary, Igor Rybak discovered marmoreal. Then he wrote this.

In February, when the snow stopped falling and the heavy clouds parted and all was whiteness—all bright sun beaming off the alabaster fields—my brother, Anton, went into town on Father’s order to buy a kilogram of sugar for Mother (who had been drinking bitter tea since Christmas Eve, when she’d mistakenly used every last bit of sugar—rather than, as the recipes called for, salt—in making the traditional twelve dishes of Christmas, which we ate anyway, so as not to hurt her feelings, and which caused Uncle Bruno to suffer sugar fits all night long), a supply of newspapers for Father (dating back to the first week of December, when the snow had begun to fall and the delivery boy stopped showing altogether, not even to collect his payment), a wedged heel for Grandmother’s

slipper (which had been damaged on Christmas Eve while she was teaching my brother, Anton, to waltz, and which, after a month of waddling on the broken heel, Grandmother had taken off before she climbed into bed and refused to walk around barefoot for fear of catching a cold or offending any guests who might come by, though no one had come since Christmas Eve, when a Nordic type on cross-country skis stopped by to ask for directions to the village), and an elastic band for Uncle Bruno’s eyepatch (which had snapped when he was singing “Ave Maria” at the moon on Christmas Eve and then had to be tied so tight that his temples were marked by red lines when he took off the eyepatch in the evening to wash his bald head) and a woolen  hat for me (since mine had been given to the Nordic type on skis, who appeared at our door with no hat at all and ears the colour of beets).

When my brother, Anton, arrived in the village, he was so excited to see someone other than Mother, Father, Grandmother, Uncle Bruno and me, or so he told me, that he went up to the first young woman he saw—a blonde-haired store clerk with skin as white and smooth as our snow-covered, wind-blown fields—and asked her to dinner and then for dessert and then for a sleigh ride and then again for dessert and wine, and before long my brother, Anton, was buying mulled wine and cider for his new belle and all of her friends and they were all dancing in one tavern and then another, until Anton, my poor brother, reached into his coat to settle the bill and found in it nothing but straw and a shopping list and he was chased from the tavern by the barman.

So my poor brother, Anton, trudged back to our house and arrived empty-handed and shivering, and admitted that he had spent the money on his new love, and when Mother asked him, with tears in her eyes, if he really was her son, if perhaps she was talking to some stranger who resembled her beloved son, he, Anton, answered with a poem, which Uncle Bruno described as the definitive end of verse: a thaw is upon us and these marmoreal fields will teem green, soon; my marmoreal heart has cracked, and in it’s place a rose has bloomed.

Igor Rybak is a silly man who writes serious stories.