Eli Bar-Yahalom. Translated by Maria Bloshteyn

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1. Сретенка. Старая
Historical photo of Sretenka (street in the center of Moscow)
Eli Bar-Yahalom. Translated by Maria Bloshteyn

God, how I loved that town.
God, how I loved that town.
With its stores, all smelling of a lightfest, with each corner hosting a poet or an artist, with its turnstiles’ wind jets, with the richness of its baguettes, with its cozy little life,
even though the city itself is as giant as a comet’s tail, with –
Wait, but isn’t that Moscow?
Yes, it’s Moscow, with its heating by steam generation, its nonresistance to evil as an avocation, with each corner hosting a unique cultural sensation, with its diverse and wholly astonishing population.
You sure it’s Moscow?
Yes, God. The very city, legit. For some reason I still dream of it. How the heck did I manage to fall in love with it, get so stuck on it, grow so used to it, become part of it…
But you do understand that it’s the capital of evil?
Yes, God. It’s the capital of evil, alright. Hordes upon hordes stand on the square of darkness and worship a goat in plain sight. Baphomet spread out his black wings over the street where my friend lived pre-blight. (She took flight. Her husband won’t have to fight.) And my other friend has been knocked out flat by the last letter of a foreign alphabet.
So then why?
No reason, God, none at all. I’m scanning the crumbling internet and see a skeleton standing tall, and the last-ever rockets prepped for the call, but God, what if a new dawn will suddenly lift this pall?
And what new dawn might that be?
Well, God, the end of the war—for one, and that someone else’s land will stay with that other someone, and the Commander-in-shit will drown in that shit with his guns, and whatever is making people not get along will be done, and then…
You’re fucking out of your mind, my son, saith Lord God. No one can bring back flesh that’s now rot. You won’t find for Zed a CTRL-Z that makes death disappear just like that. You can’t resurrect Bucha and Irpin—undo the mark made by the choice between light and dark. I’ve got no Nuremberg so fucking peremptory that it could undo your twenty-first century.
…But what about the courtyards? The bars? The racket? China-town? Sretenka? La-minor?
Nevermore, saith Lord God. Nevermore.


* * *

Господи, как хорошо было мне в этом городе.
Господи, как хорошо было мне в этом городе.
С магазинами, пахнущими добрым светом, с на каждом углу то художником, то поэтом, с ветром от турникетов, сдобой ночных багетов, с маленькой жизнью, хотя при этом сам город огромен, как шлейф кометы, с –
Погоди, но ведь это Москва?
Да, Москва, с её тёплым паровым отоплением, со злу насилием непротивлением, на каждом углу своеобразным культурным явлением, с её разнообразным таким удивительным населением.
Точно Москва?
Точно, Господи. Город-птица. Мне она до сих пор почему-то снится. Как меня угораздило так влюбиться, так пристраститься, так влипнуть, влиться, так…
А ты понимаешь, что это – столица зла?
Да, Господи. Это столица зла. Тьмы и тьмы на площади тьмы онанируют на козла. Бафомет распростёр два чёрных крыла над улицей, где подруга раньше жила. (Убежала. Мужа уберегла.) А другая подруга теперь накрыта последней буквой нетамошнего алфавита.
Тогда зачем?
Господи, незачем, повода нет. Я читаю разваливающийся интернет и вижу встающий на ноги скелет и открывающиеся шахты последних ракет, но вдруг, Господи, вдруг внезапно придёт рассвет?
Это какой, извини, рассвет?
А такой, Господи, что конец войне, что чужие земли – чужой стране, а гавнокомандующий утонет в говне, и те, кто сегодня друг с другом не, смогут внезапно опять вполне, и тогда…
Ты оχγел, сыне мой, говорит Господь. Никто не вернёт сгоревшую плоть. Не найдётся на зет такой Ctrl-зет, что нажмёшь – от смерти пропал и след, что воскреснет Буча, встанет Ирпень, обнулится выбор, с кем свет, с кем тень. Ни один Мой joбаный Нюрнберг не отменит твой двадцать первый век.
…А дворы? А бар? А стихийный ор? Китай-город, Сретенка, ля-минор?
Nevermore, говорит Господь. Nevermore.


About the Author:

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Eli Bar-Yahalom
Haifa, Israel

Eli Bar-Yahalom is a prize-winning bilingual poet, bard, writer, editor, and translator. Born in Leningrad in 1968, he immigrated with his family to Israel in 1974 and has lived in Haifa ever since. He was educated as a mathematician. He is the author of two books of poetry (one in Hebrew, one in Russian) and has released nine albums with songs in both languages. He translates from Russian into Hebrew and vice versa, as well as from English and Japanese. A book of his Russian poetry, Котенок русского языка (A Kitten of the Russian Tongue) and a novel in Russian, Защитник неведомого (Defender of the Unknown), are forthcoming.

About the Translator:

1. Maria Bloshteyn photo1
Maria Bloshteyn
Toronto, Canada

Maria Bloshteyn is a literary scholar, editor, translator, and essayist. She was born in Leningrad and she grew up and lives in Toronto. Maria studied Dostoevsky’s impact on American culture and is the author of The Creation of a Counter-culture Icon: Henry Miller’s Dostoevsky (2007). She is the translator of Alexander Galich’s Dress Rehearsal (2009) and Anton Chekhov’s The Prank (2015), as well as the editor and the main translator of Russia is Burning, a collection of Russоphone poems of World War II (Smokestack Books, 2020). Her poetry translations have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry (Penguin Classics, 2015).

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