Julia Nemirovskaya. Euthanasia. Translated by Dmitri Manin

Also in Translations:

1. Death Comes to the Banquet Table (Memento Mori), by Giovanni Martinelli, 1635 via Wikimedia Commons
Death Comes to the Banquet Table (Memento Mori) by Giovanni Martinelli, 1635. [Via Wikimedia Commons]
Julia Nemirovskaya. Euthanasia. Translated by Dmitri Manin

Death, they say, looks a lot like orange juice.
They bring it to Dictator P in a hospital paper cup.
Other dictators — Nguyen Phu Trong, Sayasone — stand in a loose
circle around and cheer, “Don’t fret, we’re with you, drink it up

before your muscles sag like a bunch of dead vipers.”

Kim Jong-un offers a brew of the bark of the upas tree,
but the naked doctor panics, drops his bow and quiver,
and prescribes death, as they planned originally.

Dictator P stares into the cup and sees a ghostly wolf’s eye.
Euthanasia is quick and painless, but he’s lost in uneasy thought.
This body was one of the best he’d ever tried,
he could get more time out of it, but the horse he was riding was shot.

“It is good to stay or to go with a like-minded pack
of those who do as you do,” says Khamenei.
The nurse will come and paint the windows black,
P thinks happily, as his mind is slipping away.

There are tooth marks on the three sides of the glass,
rusty drops on the bottom, faces blur on the fringes.
“Am I in space, comrade Gagarin?” he asks,
tearing off his neck tentacles, fingers, syringes.
* * *
Смерть, говорят, похожа на апельсиновый сок.
Диктатору П ее несут в бумажном больничном стакане.
Вокруг другие диктаторы: Нгуен Фу Чонг, Сайнясон.
“Пей, – говорят, – не бойся, нам весело вместе, пока не

обвисли мускулы, как стадо мертвых гадюк.”

Ким Чен Ын предлагает кору заварить анчара,
Но, войдя, пугается голый доктор, бросает стрелы и лук,
прописав смерть, как и предполагалось сначала.

Диктатор П смотрит в стакан, там волчьего глаза тень.
Эвтаназия – это быстро, небольно, но что-то гложет.
Это тело было одним из лучших его тел,
он мог в нем подольше, но под ним застрелили лошадь.

“В единомыслии, среди тех, кто делает так же,
хорошо оставаться и уходить,” – говорит Хаменеи.
Медсестра придет и окна черным замажет, –
радуется П уже в полузабытьи.

Следы зубов на стаканчике с трех сторон,
на дне рыжие капли, лица вверху сливаются.
В космосе я или нет, Гагарин? – вопрошает он,
отдирая от шеи шприцы, щупальцы, пальцы.

About the Author:

Julia Nemirovskaya
Oregon, USA

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.

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).

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