As they say, I will die - people tend to die sooner or later, But Iíd rather be killed - hate to die on my own, paralyzed. Not to those alive - to the dead do we really cater, Taking care of them, chanting, promising them Paradise. Stabbed, Iíll fall in the mud, fall apart, so handsome and hapless, And my soul will rush on a stolen mare towards the sky; In the Paradise gardens Iíll pick several pink seedless apples, But the gardens are watched, and the guards zap you right in the eye. Eden was the last name for the place where I came with my mare - Barren grayness around, itís a kingdom of "Nothing & Nix", And in front of the gate in the center of that nowhere Several thousand inmates would silently stand on their knees. Then my mare would neigh - so I calmed her with handfuls of oats, And I pulled out the burs from her pasterns and plaited her mane... A gray-haired old man tried to open the gate, swearing oaths, But he failed to unlock it and quit, swearing dirty again. Those folks at the gate neither groaned nor uttered a sound, They just squatted, because knees went numb due to long kneeling there; Dogs left prints on the sand - oh, my God, itís a prison compound! It is not Paradise, though the Crucified soared in the air. I am looking around - other prisons must envy this prison! Smell of bread from the gate - it holds better than shackles and chains. I am safe so far, but too much of the ozone has risen, I am nearly choked, I canít curse as it gives me great pains. I at once understood - it is Peter, the doorman of Eden, And he is the apostle, and I am an ass, passing by; In the Paradise gardens picking apples is strictly forbidden, And the gardens are watched, and the guards zap you right in the eye. I do not ask for much - though others adore goods and chattels, All I need is my friends and a wife who will wail when I die, And for them I will steal in the Paradise gardens some apples, But the gardens are watched, and the guards zap you right in the eye. Saints in khaki are clad, from the doghouse cherubim swear; Ice-cold apples I pick, into my shirt those apples I slip, And then - bang! - hereís the shot, I am killed in the eye, and my mare Takes me down to the Earth, madly galloping back on this trip.
We may die once again - only this time in Eden it happens, Then the soul will trot down the old familiar track. Out of Eden I carry a shirtful of pink seedless apples, I will bring them to you, ícause you waited for me to come back.
© George Tokarev. Translation, 1998
Edited by Robert Titterton
© Tony Fata. Performance, 2017
© Bernard Hoskin. Performance, ?