In memory of Mikhail Khergiani1
You walk on the glacierís brink Your eyes fixed on the mountainís top. The mountains sleep, breathing clouds in, Breathing out avalanches non-stop. But all the time they are watching out for you Itís as if they have made a pledge To warn you of the looming dangers too With the falling rock and the failing ledge. The mountains were aware when trouble came. Billowing smoke cloaked the mountain sides. But then to you it all seemed the same: The bursting shells and tumbling landslides. And if you asked for help at all. The rocks echoed back booming rallies And the fierce wind blew the mountains call Like radio signals through the valleys. And when a battle for a pass reached its height, To save you from the enemyís eyes, The ribs of stone hid you from sight And the rocks shoulders became your disguise. Itís a lie that clever men stay clear of mountains2; You refused to believe what they said. So the granite softens, ice melts to fountains And the fog beneath youís like a downy bed. If you lie down forever in the eternal snow, The mountains will arch and they will bend Over you - as if youíre one of theirs, you know - A headstone that will last to the end.
1 He was a famous Georgian alpinist who died in 1969, aged 37. He won many rock climbing championships of the USSR.
2 A Russian proverb, which says someone clever will not go up a mountain, he will go around it.
© John Farndon + Olga Nakston. Translation, 2022