Poets of Ukraine. Irina Evsa. In Memory of the Peninsula

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View of the Ak-Kaya (White Rock) mountain in the center of the Crimean peninsula
Poets of Ukraine. Irina Evsa. In Memory of the Peninsula

We unlocked the house, the wing. Into the earthen jug

stuffed the rustle of reeds. Hastily ground some coffee.

We gave the animals names: Three Fat Men was the slug,

The spider was Samson, and the spotted frog, Sophie.

We went to the beach. We surveyed the market, where

we recognized the diluted alcohol as Tartar chacha,

an earthworm in a puddle as a twig of pear,

and the сhurchkhela seller as chief of the Apaches.

Complementing their meanings, but preserving their rights,

we gave each creature a twin, incarnate in a word

of the newcomers’ newspeak that turns everything into lies.

And we plunged into sleep. How we slept, Good Lord!

Our dreams smelled of sheepskin and wool and milk,

glowed chicory blue on the outline of the hill.

We lay face up, then face down, deaf under the spell.

The levant blew. Crabs foraged on the sea floor.

We slept through mutiny, famine, infamy, war,

flooding in Yalta and drought in Koktebel,

and over the valley where the orphaned village wound,

a triumph of time and reallotment of space.

And we woke up where there was nothing around,

with that nothing’s name irrevocably erased.

* * *

Памяти полуострова

Дом открыли, флигель. Шорохи тростника

запихнули в глечик. Кофе, спеша, смололи.

Даровали слизню имя — Три Толстяка,

пауку — Самсон, пятнистой лягушке — Молли.

Навестили пляж. Базар обозрели, где

разведённый спирт назвали татарской чачей,

черенком листа — червя в дождевой воде,

продавца чурчхелы — дерзким вождём апачей.

Дополняя смыслом, но не лишая прав,

всяку тварь живую мы воплотили в паре

с новоязом пришлых, сущее переврав.

И уснули, рухнув. Господи, как мы спали!

Ничего не слыша. Навзничь, потом ничком.

Сны овечьей шкурой пахли и молоком,

по краям холмов цикорием голубели.

Дул левант. Клешнями крабы скребли по дну.

Мы проспали голод, смуту, позор, войну,

наводненье в Ялте, засуху в Коктебеле,

передел пространства, времени торжество

над селом сиротским, что по ущелью вьется.

И проснулись там, где не было ничего.

И забыли напрочь, как «ничего» зовётся.

About the Author:

1. image (1)
Irina Evsa
Kharkiv, Ukraine / Darmstadt, Germany

Irina Evsa (born 1956) is a Ukrainian poet who writes in Russian. Before the war–until Russia’s attack on Ukraine– she lived in Kharkiv; at the beginning of March 2022, she moved to Germany. She is the author of nineteen books of poems and numerous publications in magazines and newspapers. Her poems have been translated into English, Ukrainian, Serbian, Lithuanian, Azerbaijani, Armenian, and Georgian. She is a laureate of numerous poetry prizes, including the Russian Prize (2016), Voloshin Prize (2016), the prize of the Kyiv Lavry Poetry Festival (2018), and The Moscow Account prize.

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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