There Gumilev was lost, pulled asunder
by a bullet, and the lawn drank his blood by the dram.
There sound the lutes, the distant thunder.
Who else managed to catch that tram?
Here goddaughter Natalia sighs
(gazing ahead as the dead might do)
The Mariupol trams could really fly
Back when they were shiny and new.
They imported them from somewhere in Europe:
with wi-fi, timetables and ads on TV,
with windows so bright, and the seats a delight.
Where could my brother and mother be?
Ten days and no word, they’ve been too quiet.
In the news the rails lie in tatters.
I answer: you know, as luck would have it
I know of this tram; I’ve read all about it.
The tram runs its route, but makes no stops,
despite the passengers’ pleas to climb off.
The car and the rails shine new as they drive.
They all watch the ads, and in this are alive.
He’s right on track, his course well defined.
The tram driver is knowing and able:
to the India of the spirit, the Auschwitz of the mind
each station and stop is timed in his table.
Below, the city of Mary remains
little seaside Mariupol, forlorn.
Mashenka, there they invoked your name –
Lay down your arms! – in their dark bullhorn.
–Translated by Niles Watterson
Там Гумилев заблудился, влекомый
пулей, и кровь его пьет трава.
Там звоны лютни, дальние громы.
Кто успел запрыгнуть в трамвай?
Вот говорит мне кума Наталья
(смотрит вперед будто неживая)
У нас в Мариуполе прям летали
раньше новехонькие трамваи.
Их привезли из Европы откуда-то:
табло, телевизор, вай фай с рекламой,
окна огромные, сиденья чудные.
Как узнать, что с братом и мамой?
Десять дней ничего не слышно.
А в новостях рельсы жгутами.
Я отвечаю: знаешь, так вышло
Что я о трамвае этом читала.
Он ходит, только без остановок,
хоть выйти просятся пассажиры.
Он правда новый, и рельсы новые.
Все смотрят рекламу, и все в нем живы.
Он не заблудился, маршрут исчислил.
Вагоновожатый – он малый ловкий:
до Индии духа, Освенцима мысли
расставил заправки и остановки.
Внизу остался город Марии,
приморский маленький Мариуполь.
Машенька, там о тебе говорили –
Бросьте оружие – в черный рупор.
Julia Nemirovskaya was part of Kovaldzhi’s Seminar and Poetry Club New Wave Poets. She published several collections of verse and short stories, a novel, and a book on Russian Cultural History (with McGrow-Hill, 1997, 2001). Her work appeared in Znamya, LRS, GLAS, Asymptote, Vozdukh, Novyi Bereg, Okno, Stanford Literary Magazine, etc. in Russian, French, English, and Bulgarian. She is currently teaching and directing student’s theater at the University of Oregon.
Niles Watterson, a poet and translator, grew up along the front range of the Colorado Rockies but has spent a significant portion of his life in the current and former authoritarian states of Eastern Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and Texas. His early university training is in Russian language and literature, and he translates from Russian and Czech into English. A world traveler at heart, his interests include the conflict between the individual and the state, religion, genocide, and the madness of crowds.
A book of wartime poems by Alexandr Kabanov, one of Ukraine’s major poets, fighting for the independence of his country by means at his disposal – words and rhymes.
In this collection, Andrey Kneller has woven together his own poems with his translations of one of the most recognized and celebrated contemporary Russian poets, Vera Pavlova.
This collection, compiled, translated, and edited by poet and scholar Ian Probstein, provides Anglophone audiences with a powerful selection of Mandelstam’s most beloved and haunting poems.
Four teenagers grow inseparable in the last days of the Soviet Union—but not all of them will live to see the new world arrive in this powerful debut novel, loosely based on Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.
A book of poems in Russian by Victor Enyutin (San Francisco, 1983). Victor Enyutin is a Russian writer, poet, and sociologist who emigrated to the US from the Soviet Union in 1975.