‘The big city devoured my heart’: Words and art by Irina Tall

The big city devoured my heart, I left there a treasure, health and a little bit of intelligence that cannot be found behind the darkness of doorways.

The stars hid from my eyes behind a panel of black sky, the moon dish was glued with nails, only the hats stick out, a little splinters fell down on my blanket, I grab it with my palms, I squeeze it in my fingers and become like stars, shining in the darkness.

The red pillow touches my elbow with a mohair end, very pleasant, like chocolate on the tongue and the taste of a forgotten self in my head.

Once, out of stupidity, I tried to change the past and now I was punished… Now my heart beats strangely and intensely, as if trying to defeat a lot of buoys on its way, but it is a bad swimmer and quickly fizzles out and groans, gets bogged down in all this strange turbidity and dies, becomes the remains of an ancient bird on a rock formation.

I looked around in a strange way and my neck hung down the blue-red tiger bed, I looked up and slipped.

‘Are you still here?’ a voice repeats to me…

I can’t answer him, although I want to, but … he is somehow disgusting to me …

And I don’t remember his face, trying and straining my memory, he haunts me like a ghost, I remember what nation he was, and then, probably, from the unfulfillment of his dream, he went crazy, became a madman in time, like a traveler …

And there are films left, French, Chinese, Japanese and no others, white pours into my palms, melts, burns with cold ice and floats pouring into the lakes. I leave my shirt, white, tear it, open the span of a narrow door and disappear, flying like a bird into night dreams. Can’t find you there? And how are you!? Once I walked through a green meadow and could do a lot, but now I’m aiming like a ball at the old one and there my heart is torn into thousands of pages, I can’t read them.


Irina Tall (Novikova) is an artist, graphic artist, illustrator. She graduated from the State Academy of Slavic Cultures with a degree in art, and also has a bachelor’s degree in design.

The first personal exhibition “My soul is like a wild hawk” (2002) was held in the museum of Maxim Bagdanovich. In her works, she raises themes of ecology, in 2005 she devoted a series of works to the Chernobyl disaster, draws on anti-war topics. The first big series she drew was The Red Book, dedicated to rare and endangered species of animals and birds. Writes fairy tales and poems, illustrates short stories. She draws various fantastic creatures: unicorns, animals with human faces, she especially likes the image of a man – a bird – Siren. In 2020, she took part in Poznań Art Week. Her work has been published in magazines: Gupsophila, Harpy Hybrid Review, Little Literary Living Room and others. In 2022, her short story was included in the collection “The 50 Best Short Stories”, and her poem was published in the collection of poetry “The wonders of winter”.