Poems by Gabriela Milkova

[Image description: a veil is covering the window, so our perception is distorted, but we see houses and clouds in the distance. In the top left-hand corner is the text 'Still the walls do not fall,' and in the bottom right hand corner is the text 'I do not know why}

Cover image by Emily Bourne.
Poetry by Gabriela Milkova.

Still the Walls Do Not Fall

Still the walls do not fall,

I do not know why; 

Every millennia we cry the sky is falling,
It’s written in the stars, we say
That the end-times are near.
I read in the news that the world was ending September 23, 2017:
Revelation 12’s Virgo, Woman of the Apocalypse, in labour of the New Earth.

My world ended on September 23, 2018.

Each to his own Apocalypse.
Some say the world will end by fire,
Some say by ice,

Myself – I died twice.

And still, the walls do not fall;
I do not know why.

*‘Still the walls do not fall’ is a direct quotation from H.D.’s poem The Walls Do Not Fall, published in 1944 in wake of the Second World War. This was a time in which apocalyptic language and imagination experienced a revival due to the tragic and colossal events that occurred in the century. This poem is a reflection on such apocalyptic language, and how sometimes, one’s own personal apocalypse could be much quieter in comparison. It is a gradation from the large-scale to the small-scale, paralleling the two in equal terms.*


I diffused cinnamon leaf oil tonight –
It’s good for disinfection –
I had hoped it would heal the sticky stuff that grew around the cut I got the other day.
The doctor said it got infected.
I said: I don’t remember cutting it.
He said: Are you sure you haven’t been handling sharp objects?
No – I said – I blunt all my knives.
And how do you slice bread?
I don’t. Teeth aren’t half bad at cutting through things, except skin.
For that you need knives.
But I blunt all my knives.
So how did you get that cut?
I don’t remember, I’ve been very careful.

But sometimes it doesn’t cut, it rips.
When you have too much body for too little skin.
It encompasses the whole of you and makes a tear.
The new wine – old wineskin conundrum.
What if, doctor, there’s too much of me and too little skin to cover it?
Where does the rest of me go?

It’s infected; rub in some cinnamon oil and sleep on it –
You’ll be brand new in the morning.

I wasn’t.

Unsent Messages

To all the hours I haven’t slept –
Dreamless mornings.
To all the memories I’ve erased
And people I’ve blocked.
All the numbers I’ve deleted
And gifts I’ve thrown away.

You’re gone now.
But there’s places you left empty in me –
Shaped like you.
If anyone saw them, though, they’d still know
It was me.
I just tell people, yeah – that’s my flesh, it shapes me.
What they don’t know is, what shapes me is my lungs, when they
Inflate with nothing –
You’ve inflated me with absences, I’m made in your shape.
Then you left – but the absence stayed.
I thought I’d ripped you out and thrown you out.
But that’s how I was made.