Tatiana Voltskaya. There Will Be No Coffins. Translated by Dmitri Manin.

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Mobile crematorium used by t the Russian army in Ukraine
Mobile crematorium used by t the Russian army in Ukraine
Tatiana Voltskaya. There Will Be No Coffins. Translated by Dmitri Manin.

There will be no coffins. Our children will burn to ashes

In a mobile oven, and the smoke will swirl and waft

Over the fields of Ukraine where the black plume meshes

With the smoke of wildfire – up there, on the left.

Instead of the body, the doorbell will ring, a polite

Army captain will bring the ashes in a neat package

And place it silently on the bookshelf, right

By the photo of a brave soldier with demob patches,

Turned a contractnik. The captain will open his briefcase,

With a jerk of his head, as if something bothered

Him, he’ll fish out a paper, establish a base

On the stool, hold it out: sign here for non-disclosure.

She’ll sign. He’ll pick up his briefcase and hustle on

Past the TV with a crooning pop singer clown

And a bunk bed where on top the younger son,

A ninth-grade student leans over and stares down

At him as intensely as if waiting for a box of his own.

~ ~ ~

Гробов не будет. Наших детей сожгут

В походной печке, а дым развеют

Над украинским полем, и чёрный жгут

Сольётся с дымом пожара – вон там, левее.

Вместо тела вежливый капитан,

Позвонив в квартиру, доставит пепел

В аккуратном пакете и молча положит там,

Под фотографией, где залихватский дембель

Перерос в контракт. Расстегнув портфель,

Вынет бумагу и, дёрнув шеей,

Будто что-то мешает, усядется, как на мель,

На табурет: подпишите неразглашенье.

Она подпишет. И он поспешит назад

Мимо телека с Басковым недопетым

И двухъярусной койкой, где младший брат,

Девятиклассник, с него не спускает взгляд,

Свесившись – будто ждет своего пакета.

About the Author:

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Tatiana Voltskaya
St. Petersburg, Russia

Tatiana Voltskaya is a Russian poet and a freelance correspondent for Radio Liberty in St. Petersburg. She was a laureate of the Pushkin scholarship (Germany, 1999), awards of the Zvezda magazine (2003), and the Interpoetry magazine (2016). Winner of the Voloshin competition (2018), the All-Russian poetry competition “The Lost Tram” (2019). In 2020, she became one of the winners of the competition announced by the composer Ilya Demutsky. She has been awarded the Pyotr Weil Free Russian Journalism. Voltskaya’s poems, as well as her reviews, were published in many Russian literary magazines; her work was translated into Swedish, Dutch, Finnish, Italian, English, and Lithuanian. She has authored eleven collections of poetry.

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 a poem by Stepanova won the Compass Award competition.

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