All goes wrong, although nothing has changed here of late. Air, the forest, the sky and the lighting - They’re just like they were always, but there’s no my mate - He was yesterday shot in the fighting. Now it’s of no account, who was wrong, who was right In our arguments that went on nightly. What this lad was for me, I saw but the last night, When he was shot by them in the fighting. He’d be awkwardly silent, he sang out of tune, And just smiled when I said something biting, He’d prevent me from sleeping, he sat by the moon, And was yesterday shot in the fighting. I talk not of the emptiness - we knocked about In all kinds of time - dull and exciting. It felt as if my fire by the wind was put out, When he was shot by them in the fighting. Spring is here, at long last, royal blue is the sky. I called out, without thinking, most likely, “Buddy, leave me the butt!” - but there was no reply, He was yesterday shot in the fighting. Our dead men haven’t passed over, and light up our way, They’ll for ever be our faithful sentinels. In the forest, the sky’s mirrored as in a lake, And blue trees stand majestic and gentle. There was plenty of room for us in the dugout, Time for us ran coequally and lightly. Now I own all alone, but I’ve started to doubt: Wasn’t it me who was shot in the fighting?
© Akbar Muhammad. Translation, 2016
[Adapted from translations by other translators:
Sergey Roy’s “He Was Shot Down in Fighting”,
Alec Vagapov’s “He Hasn’t Returned from the Fighting”.]