Michael Scherb. Translated by Sergey Gerasimov
Michael Scherb. Translated by Sergey Gerasimov
Abstraction by Mark Steiner
Michael Scherb. Translated by Sergey Gerasimov

 
THERE USED TO BE
 

There used to be: classrooms
full of sickly boredom,
begonias on the sill,
eyes elongated like vowels,
and in the fall,
the smell of Antonovka apples.

The epoch of decay, of destruction,
straitjackets of restrictions,
bodily ventures of sex,
sinful relationships,
still redundant,
as if designed to grow into them,
as if someone inside me
was growing, replacing me,
striving to break out,
like a moth vibrating its wings
in my mouth void of speech,
but full of muteness and unreality
and the biting winds of January.

Since then, no matter what,
that one has always lived in my dark blood.
He’s like a compass needle
that trembles among people –
from the south pole of anguish
to the far north of love,
the crown of his head deep in my throat.

He’s the one who gives me ease,
who supports me by the elbow,
who wakes me up like morning coffee,
who warms me better than a cardigan,
and if there’s the tiniest gap
between either souls or bodies,
he fills it straight away.
 

* * *
 
The Original
 
ВСЁ БЫЛО

Всё было: и комнаты классные,
И скука, и недомогание
бегонии на подоконнике,
И глаз удлинённых, как гласные,
От резкого света моргание,
И осень, и запах антоновки.

Эпоха распада и тления,
Запретов объятия тесные,
И пола затеи телесные,
Греховные переплетения,
Излишние, словно на вырост,
Как будто бы кто-то внутри
Другой мне на смену вырос,
И выйти стремился наружу,
Как бабочка, бился во рту,
Навек опустевшем для речи, –
Откроешь – январскую стужу
Он впустит в жильё человечье
И призрачность, и немоту.

С тех пор он, кори – не кори,
Живёт в моей тёмной крови
И требует вдоха иного.
Он стрелкой дрожит меж людьми,
От южного полюса боли,
До северного – любви,
И тычется теменем в горло,

Но он же – дарует мне лёгкость,
И он же – поддержит под локоть,
Поднимет, как утренний кофе,
Согреет не хуже, чем кофта,
И слово надежды запомнит,

А если меж душ или тел
Заметит малейший пробел,
То тут же его и заполнит.

About the Author:

Michael Scherb
Michael Scherb
Dortmund, Germany

Michael Scherb (1972, Odesa, Ukraine), theoretical physicist, computer scientist. Since 1994, he has been living in Germany. Michael is the author of two poetry collections.

About the Translator:

Sergey Gerasimov
Sergey Gerasimov
Kharkiv, Ukraine

Sergey Gerasimov is a Ukraine-based writer, poet, and translator of poetry. Among other things, he has studied psychology. He is the author of several academic articles on cognitive psychology. When he is not writing, he leads a simple life of teaching, playing tennis, and kayaking down beautiful Ukrainian rivers. The largest book publishing companies in Russia, such as AST, Eksmo, and others have published his books. His stories and poems written in English have appeared in Adbusters, Clarkesworld Magazine, Strange Horizons, J Journal, The Bitter Oleander, and Acumen, among many others. His last book is Oasis published by Gypsy Shadow. The poetry he translated has been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes. His novel about survival in Kharkiv under heavy bombardment, originally written in English, has been published in a Swiss magazine, in German.

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Michael Scherb Михаил Щерб
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