From our border and back we rotated the Earth: Yes, we did, rest reassured. But the Earth’s spin our captain then chose to reverse, Kicking off with his foot from the Urals. Well, at last we’ve been given a task to attack, To retrieve all our cubits and pieces. Yet we keep in our mind how the sun went off track, How it almost set down moving eastward. We don’t measure the Earth with our movements All the while stomping flowers in vain. We, instead, push the Earth with our jackboots: Off our way, off our way! All the haystacks are bent by the wind from the east, A sheep flock seeks [the cliffs for] protection. Since today the Earth’s axis was shifted with ease When we changed the offensive direction. Do not be so confused when the sunset’s misplaced; Judgement day is a folk tale for adults. It is simply the Earth is rotated with ease By the troops of our marching battalions. We are crawling, we’re hugging each tussock; Grass is violently pinched, not in play; With our knees the Earth’s surface is hustled: Off our way, off our way! Not a single man there would have raise up his hands, Not a man struck the colors. All the bodies today are of tangible help: Living souls use their fallen for cover. Will this foolish lead put every man to his rest? At point-blank or from flanks are we threatened? Someone covered the machine-gun nest with his chest, And the Earth then froze still for a second. Feet are useless when crawling, my fellows. For the dead I, in passing, will prey. The Earth’s globe I’m rotating with elbows: Off our way, off our way! Someone stood up full height, with a bow of his head, Took a bullet and stiffened. But our companies crawl to the west, to the west, So the sun will rise properly eastward. With our bellies in mud, we breathe stench of the marsh, But we’re closing our eyes to this fetor. And today the sun properly follows its arch, Because West’s the direction we’re heading. Arms and legs, both are checked as we shuffle; Sipping dew, as if married today, We are pulling the Earth by the stubble: On our way, on our way!
© Kirill Tolmachev. Translation, 2021