The whole war, start to finish, I was longing for home. Even though I was hasty, I fought diligently. But he always hurried. One time he didnít duck down. So his war was, in fact, in and out: next to nothing, two years (if that). His pulse has not been heard since the spring of í43. And I submerged into the prewar dreams. Now I am angry and bitter. Thereís a weight on my chest. He was kinder and simpler, But I just caught a break. I did not run from danger, did not beg God for favors! Didnít ask to go home or hide under Fateís skirt. Yet all those women now hint when they see me: "If you had died out there in battle, perhaps my man would have returned." Their sad accusations come as no surprise. But itís not like Iím happy about their ruined lives! I came up with an answer: "Iím sorry I lived!" "By mere accident I have returned, "And yours did not." At the end he was shouting, burning in his plane cabin: "You go on! You will make it!" could be heard through the noise. We were flying next to God, right underneath Heaven. He climbed higher and landed up there, but I managed to pull down to earth. The pilot was greeted dryly at the Heavenís air field. He came down on his belly, but he refused to crawl. Now his sleep has no waking, and his song was cut short. So I have returned, I returned, But he did not. I forever stand guilty before all of those, All those whom today Iíd be honored to meet. Those of us who have made it back unscathed from the wars Are still tortured by guilt and by conscience, if they have conscience retained. Someone stingy and thorough counted out the days Of our lives, as short as an airfieldís runway. From which some have ascended, some have crashed down to earth. As for me - I have landed, I landed. And that is my curse.
© Vadim Astrakhan. Translation, 2013