Valeri Brainin-Passek. Translated by Dmitri Manin

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Valeri Brainin-Passek. Translated by Dmitri Manin

 
                                  Your dust is here, but not your spirit.
                                                         –Derzhavin

I rode the streetcar to the morgue,

Biblical heat had scorched the town,

I thought of her, alive no more,

and wondered where she could be found.

I knew she had to be somewhere,

a place of which I wasn’t aware,

she, whom the other day I saw

this side of the voracious maw.
 

Something was circling over me

that looked like windblown poplar fluff,

but it was someone otherworldly

muddling my senses from above.

I knew for sure one day I’d die

and stick it to the one, thereby,

who’d whispered: “nothing’s ever gone

traceless into oblivion,
 

nothing and no one’s ever gone…”

That’s nonsense, balderdash, I said,

a realist seasoned to the bone,

I raved and bobbed my mortal head.

So we communed while in the sky

over the streetcar clouds flew by,

the city smelled like asphalt, gas

and grass – young, sunlit, living grass.
 

Eventually pacified

I rode to get the clothes and all,

to have the papers stamped and signed

as needed for the funeral.

They brought me with a somber air

her coat and dress and underwear,

I stood there watching from a distance

the bottom line of an existence.
 

I signed and left without delay,

the whole thing was too much to bear;

from Him Who’d taken her away

I asked for tears that heal despair,

but no tears came to me in need,

nor words that I could trust and heed,

that would disturb my soul anew

in the unfathomable blue.
 

The Original
                                       Здесь персть твоя, а духа нет.
                                        –Державин

Я ехал на трамвае в морг,

была библейская жара

и я никак понять не мог –

где та, которая жила?

Что где-то быть она должна,

я знал, не зная, где она,

та, что вчера еще была

по эту сторону жерла.
 

Витало что-то надо мной,

я думал – тополиный пух,

а это некто неземной

тревожил мой смятенный слух.

Я твёрдо знал, что я умру

и этим самым нос утру

тому, кто шепчет: “…в никуда

ничто не сгинет без следа,
 

никто не канет в никуда…”

Матерьялист, впадая в транс,

бубнил я: нонсенс, ерунда! –

и смертной головою тряс.

И так общались мы, пока

шли над трамваем облака,

гудроном пахло и травой

нагретой, молодой, живой.
 

Всем этим умиротворён,

я ехал вещи получать,

на документ для похорон

поставить подпись и печать.

Мне скорбно вынесли её

пальто, и платье, и бельё,

и я тогда увидеть смог

существования итог.
 

Я расписался за тряпьё,

и это было свыше сил,

и у Того, Кто взял её,

я слёз целительных просил,

но не нашлось ни слёз, ни слов,

которым внять я был готов,

чтобы смутили душу мне

в астральной синей глубине.
 

About the Author:

Valeri_Brainin пхото
Valeri Brainin-Passek
Hanover, Germany

Valeri Brainin-Passek was born in Nizhny Tagil. He received a composer’s education and was a member of the Moscow club “Poezia.” He currently resides in Germany. His poems have been published in various magazines, including Novy Mir and Znamya, and have also been translated into English and published in Partisan Review. His book of poems was published by Aletheia in St. Petersburg.

About the Translator:

manin_2021 (1)
Dmitri Manin
California, USA

Dmitri Manin is a physicist, programmer, and translator of poetry. His translations from English and French into Russian have appeared in several book collections. His latest work is a complete translation of Ted Hughes’ “Crow” (Jaromír Hladík Press, 2020) and Allen Ginsberg’s “The Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems” (Podpisnie Izdaniya, 2021). Dmitri’s Russian-to-English translations have been published in journals (Cardinal Points, Delos, The Café Review, Metamorphoses, etc) and in Maria Stepanova’s “The Voice Over” (CUP, 2021). In 2017, his translation of Stepanova’s poem won the Compass Award competition. “Columns,” his new book of translations of Nikolai Zabolotsky’s poems, was published by Arc Publications in 2023 (https://eastwestliteraryforum.com/books/nikolai-zabolotsky-columns-poems).

Willi Valeri Brainin Валерий Борисович Брайнин
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