If to go abroad you’re willing Lots of papers you must fill in - But it’s not the biggest pain! You can never leave without A companion, terse and stout, Dressed in plain. As your journey’s introduction You receive a strict instruction Where to stay and what to say. No independent actions Or unauthorized connections - No way! He, whose costume never varies, Introduced himself in Paris: “We will live together, side by side. Call me Sasha, I am Russian, Born and raised in Belorussia, I’m a guide”. He maintained his secret status, Poked his nose into my matters, Always lending me his helpful hand... As his office would require, He became, eyes full of fire, My best friend. I decided once in Rome Just without him to roam - He at night was writing hours in a row. Then he slept, so strong and massive, And his fists looked so impressive, That I didn’t go! Dining, I was never able To avoid him at the table, He became my goddamn tail... But I found once a minute, Swiped his note-book and in it Read a tale! In his writings he reported My behaviour was perverted, And I was a cheeky pest! And for women I was lustful, And politically distrustful, And I praised the West! This plain person, though lying, Didn’t write that I was spying. But imagine if he did! Then they’d take me far from home, Not to Paris or to Rome, But to hell, indeed!
© George Tokarev. Translation, 2001
Edited by Robert Titterton