The hour of conception I do not remember exactly, - That means my recollection is limited, - But during the night I was concepted in sin, And appeared into the world in due time. I was not born in pain and bitterness Nine months - that is not a year! The first time I sat my time in motherís womb, There was nothing good. Thank you, saints, That you spit and breathed, That my parents suddenly Excepted me without hesitation. In these times discreetly, Now - almost legendary, When the set terms mightier Dragged along in long stages. They have been picked up in the night of the conception And many - even earlier, - But here lives the brotherhood - My honourable company! Sequence, quick thoughts, sequence! The word, lines, love, the word! The first time I won the freedom According to the order of the thirty-eight. I should like to know who has it delayed so long I should pay him back, the scoundrel! But I was born and I lived and have survived, - In the house at the end of the First Meshanskaya. There behind the wall, behind the little wall, Behind the partition The neighbours indulge themselves In drinking vodka. All live the same, modestly, - By the hall-system, In thirty-eight little rooms - With one single toilet. Here rattled the teeth The comforter did not warm, Here I was informed exactly What a copeck is worth. ... Our neighbour was not startled by the siren And mother got used to it by and by. And I spit as a healthy three-year-old, On the air-raid warning! But not all that is above, is god, - And the people extinguished the incendiary shells, And like a little front support Is my sand in the perforated jug. It was sonny and in three streams It was sieved through a whole in the roof, On Avdokim Kirillidsh And Kisa Moiseyevna. She to him: "How is your son?" "Without news - missing! Oh, Kiska, we are one family - Your are also concerned! You are also - concerned, And that means all Russian, - Mine - without news missing, Yours - innocently does time." ...I dismissed diapers and the dummy, Lived - not forgotten, not forsaken, I was teased "Premature birth", Though I have not been born earlier. Masked I tried to tear away Prisoners were driven, - why do we tremble? Our fathers and brothers have come back At home to theirs or in others. Aunt Sina has a blouse With dragons and snakes, That Wovchik Popovís father Brought as a trophy. The trophied Japan, The trophied Germany... Has arrived from the country of Limes, A full Trunkland! At the station I took off My fatherís shoulder-straps And at the evacuation Came a lot of civilians. They have looked around, came to themselves, With a hangover, then sober. These who awaited the home-comers shed tears, Who waited in vain, have sobbed. And Witkaís and Genkoís father began to dig the Metro, - We asked - what for - answering: He said, halls end at the wall, But tunnels lead to the light!" The prophesy of the father Has Vitka with the friend not listened to - Has gone from our hall To the prison hall. He has always been a squabbler, If he is pushed against the wall - he resigns... He has gone through the hall - And ended at the "wall", it seems to me. But fathers - have their own minds, And what concerns us, We have considered life Completely independently. All of us, almost until to the one-year-olds - "Fighted" till we drew blood, - And in the cellars and basements The children wanted to crawl under the tanks. They had not even been hit by a bullet, - At the "Vocational Schools" one could live carelessly: Without presuming, without risking, but they risked They made knives out of files. They will pierce the lungs, Black of nicotine, Light to the handle Three coloured sets... They had peculiar scuffles These snot-nosed convicts - On building sites captured Germans Swapped pocket knives for bread. First they played "Fantik"* with pedants And then romanticists, - Ran as thieves away From the archway. The speculator was number one She was neither afraid of the neighbour nor of god, Ended her life as a millionairess - Pereswyetowa, aunt Marusya. At Marusya behind the wall was being fasted, - And she drank there secreetly... But she fell down - beside the door, - That was not nice, she died badly. Profiteering is like a drug, - She could not stand it The rich aunt Marusya Pereswyetowa. But it was all routine: Who looks - is disappointed. Especially offended By her riches was a construction worker at the metro. He has demolished the house and told us: "First wipe your noses, And I, for what have I fought?!" - And different epithetons. It has been the time and there were the cellars, Thus it happened and prices fell, And the channels floated where they should, And at the end, where they should, they empted. The children of the former superiors and majors Have risen to dangerous heights. Because on all halls It seems to them easier - down.
© Elisabeth Jelinek. Translation, 2017