Tol Shangin


The Glass Road

After the frost, our tarmac road
             is the slick back of a sleeping
                          python glazed with a thick
layer of ice, dried cowpat and plastic
             shreds, almost oily in the unfazed
                          dusk. The gunk seems so harm-
less and beaten that there is no reason
             to sweat, but this innocence is
                          inviting the slip and the smashed
skull on those blue lumps of roadside snow –
             and something else. A street sign announces by one
                          clear scarlet line across the village name that every
single sparrow beyond is outlawed. Freckles of glitter
             slither under my feet. Somebody’s dog burrowing and not
                          barking, still not barking. I turn around and walk back
very slowly, and only feel safe once the door
             is shut and Bebia gets me a hot glass of deep
                          pink raspberry tea with seeds inside floating
like souls. Maybe they drink so much of it here
             to forget that beyond the window glass, the tarmac,
                          perhaps, rose a millimetre for one moment, and fell.

TOL SHANGIN was born in Kazakhstan and grew up learning Soviet nursery rhymes by heart. She received her BA in English and Anthropology from Heidelberg University and only had the guts to write after attending Ciaran Carson’s Poetry Workshop at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland. She currently teaches English in a mountain village in Georgia. This is the first time her work is being published.