I’ve passed through first and running-into phases; I’m fine and calm and never lose my wool... Big people call me up to their places So that I’d sing how men are hunting wolves. ... Perhaps, he heard me singing in some place Or, maybe, from his kids he got an order, I’ll never know - but, in any case, Some party brass once bought a tape-recorder. Then in a home, private atmosphere, Relaxing after strenuous a day And making sure, neighbors wouldn’t hear, He cautiously pressed the button “Play”. The record quality was bad and he got sore, But through the noise and through a hissing sound He heard “Wolf hunting” and, besides, some more Of those songs he thought were underground. The tape annoyed him with the awful grunting, But still the message he somehow caught, He called his aide: “The author of “Wolf hunting” Tomorrow to my office must be brought!” For bravery no bottle did I crack, Though clammy fear in my guts was swelling, And as the door was shut behind my back About wolves, like mad, I started yelling. He wasn’t angry, punitive or vicious, His children must have asked him to be bland; He smiled and looked auspicious and propitious And even clapped a little in the end. Then, with a clang, he filled a crystal glass And said omitting mandatory “Cheers!”: “To hell with wolves! The song’s about us, About me and all my bloody fears!”... Would I be harnessed into reins and traces? My phone’s hot from calls. It never cools. Big people call me up to their places So that I’d sing how men are hunting wolves!
© George Tokarev. Translation, 2001
Edited by Robert Titterton