Can’t recall my conception’s true hour, My reminiscence must be lopsided. I was cooked up in sin, after dark though, And saw light not until it was time to. I was born not in throes, nor in malice: After all, ‘t was nine months not nine years. In a womb, I thus served my first sentence; There’s nothing attractive down there. God’s messengers, I’m very glad You spitted mold and breathed upon, So, finally, my Mom and Dad Made up their mind, and I was born To dark and inconspicuous times, Today, as far as fabulous, When sentenced to enormous times Were counting halting places off. Some, rousted on the cook-up night, But plenty had already been, And yet to think they’re still alive, My good old honored kith and kin! Forward, vigorous thoughts! Forward, dear! Have your say, dear lines! Have your say! It’s the first time that I, by decree, Had been freed in 1938. If I knew who’d been dragging it out, I would take it out on the scamp. Nonetheless, I was born and lived out: First Meschanskaya street, at the end. There, in a small room, right next-door, Behind a thin partition wall, A neighbor with her mating boy Were dawdling o’er a vodka bottle. So modestly, so plainly lived: Doors, all along a corridor, For more than 30 families One only square meter john. There, teeth oft chattered out of cold, And quilted jackets wouldn’t warm; It’s there that I for real learnt What was a copper penny’s worth. Neighbors paid little mind to banshees, and Mom got gradually used to them, also. So would I, frisky baby of three years, Pay no heed to the air-raid warnings. Only all from above is not heav’n born, So the folk blotted out fire-bombs, And a little assistance to battle-front Were my sand and a jug, outworn. And sun was piercing in three beams Like sifted thin, through ceiling vents, Down on Cyrillych, Eudokim And Guissia Moissejevna. Say, she would ask him: "How’s your sons?" And he would: "Missing, poor guys. Ah, Guisska, we’re a family one, Your kin are also martyrized! Your kin are also martyrized, Which means that you are russianized: Mine - reckoned not among alive, Yours - innocent, sent out to jail". Now, I grew over soothers and nappies Was looked after, and nurtured, and cared for. Yet they rated me a miscarriage Although I had been properly carried. Off the windows would tear the masking: Captives driven, what’s there to dread? Our fathers and brothers were coming Home, to theirs or to somebody else. Aunt Zina cut a dash in threads With snake’n’dragon prints upon, That’s the Popovs. It’s Vovchik’s Dad Had come back home with spoils of war. The salvage seized out of Japan, The salvage seized from Germany, The Lemonland at last had come, An altogether Luggageland. I took my father’s shoulder-straps To play with, on the platform, while Civilians were a-flocking back Home from evacuation sites. They adapted a little, came around, Quenched hangover and then sobered up. Who had seen theirs come back, finished crying, Who had not seen ‘em come, stopped to howl. Vitka’n’Genka’s Dad dug Metro tunnels. We were curious why, he replied: Every corridor ends with a blank wall, Whereas tunnels lead out to the light. But Vitka with his bud would give No heed to his Dad’s prophecy, The common corridor had he Changed for a prison corridor. But he had always been a dark horse, Refused, when driven to a wall. He passed along the corridor And ended up against the wall. But fathers lived to their minds, Whereas, regarding our concerns, We closely scrutinized this life Entirely on our own. All, from our age to almost one-year-olds, Used to go in for scrambles until blood ran, Whereas youngsters, in basements and ground floors, Craved for giving up lives under tanks, and Not a bullet had fallen to their share: Go to trade school, get on and don’t pine! Not to venture nor dare. But they did dare: By refashioning files into knives! Abruptly, they would run in lungs, All blackened from tobacco tar, As deep as up to their light, Collapsible, three-color hafts. At times, these sniveled criminals, Involved themselves in sell retail: Exchanged with German prisoners, These knives, on building sites, for bread. At first, they gambled for a coin, For petty cash with chuckleheads, And here romantics were a-goin’ From gateways off as plunderers. There’s a profiteer A number one there: Neither neighbors nor heaven could spook her. Passed away as a millionaire Peresvetova, madam Marussia. They were fasting, next-door to Marussia, Whereas she hit the bottle on the quiet. And she ended up at the door entrance, So uncomely, so evilly died. Fast money, like a stimulant, Must have exhausted perfectly This madam worth a million, Marussia Peresvetova, But everything was typical: Whoever saw her, bled for her. The richness, in particular, Offended tunnel-engineer. He broke the door and turned on all: ‘Go wipe your noses, snotty yet! "What was I fighting for at war?" - And various strong epithets. Times have been, and there have been basements, Deeds have also been, prices went down, Channels showed waters due destinations, And they flowed into where they were bound. Kids of sergeants and majors retired, Up to glacial latitudes climbed Insomuch as from corridors theirs, They considered it better off down.
© Vyacheslav Chetin. Translation, 2010