íTwas a dashing escape - Risky, stupid - the worst. Vologódsky was whaled, And we took off headfirst. And the two started hopping, Breathing hard, keeping low, In full view of the convoy And waist-deep in soft snow. The guards were quick to demonstrate their powers: The whole formation was laid down of course. Three rifle barrels from the waking towers Then made the sign, the lead sign of the cross. They lay flat on the ground, Noses deep in the snow, And the rampaging hounds Saw us two as their foe. But alas, itís regrettable: Lead donít pardon mistakes! We would twist in the reticles As if we were on stakes. We had to reach the bank, to reach the river, But from above, the towers set it straight: It looked so funny, but it made us shiver, For in the gunnersí sights, we met our fate. Wish I knew who he was: Running close by my side, Not afraid of the odds, Betting on his own hide. When I came to my senses, I could wheeze out at last: "Whatís your name? And what section? We have met in the past." But itís too late: he was crisscrossed with bullets: They hit both shoulders, struck his head and waist. I didnít notice, running to the fullest, I only knew that we were being chased. "Why did you fall behind?" I demanded again, But he was on his side, Splattered half of his brains. Even though I was sweating, It sent chills to my core. Three-line slugs are hard-hitting, Now it feels just like war! I held on to the boulders, panic-stricken, For when the dogs are close by, you donít run! The dogs appeared, examined what was given. The brains were licked off clean, and they were gone. I got up on all fours, Hating everyone free. I can see - my in-laws Are all waiting for me. Someone said: "Dead, damn bastard! Little use from the corpse. Half a hundred for capture, But itís nothing for death." We passed our unit, so that they would notice, Then to the zone, the watch was now awake. They were returning to receive a bonus, And I for my new sentence for the break. I began with insults, Then I thought theyíd suffice. The whole squad beat me up, Took a break at least twice. Our demise is surreal. Both worlds bad in my view: Once Iím kicked by the real, The beyond kicks me too. And in between - the forest lies in stillness, And only hares and deer appear in the view. I see myself escaping in the distance, I see myself as if Iíd make it through. I hid my pride below in desperation, The prideful lick the boots of prison guards. Instead, I licked my wounds in isolation. Not good at it, and here they are, my scars. He was sturdy and fast. Weíd be best by the creek: Leave the dogs in the dust, Leave with nothing to seek. Thatís the end of the tale. Catchers won in this race, But they left on the trail Half the fugitiveís face. The taps are shut off, you donít hear them leaking, But howls and whimpers keep you wide awake. What do we do? Our wounds require some healing: Put salt on them - remember when they ache!
© Kirill Tolmachev. Translation, 2024