Talking to Motherland

Transitions №6

Author: Anna Golubkova

Translated by the author with the help of Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya


* * *

in tver one woman 39 years old
with a degree in russian literary studies
former school teacher
of russian language and literature
went for a walk with her six year old son
and hit him twice on the head
and stabbed him with a knife  more than 40 times
then tried
to burn the corpse
they caught her the same day
she was so heavily intoxicated
she couldn’t understand
what all these people
wanted from her

sometimes this woman
seems to me a metaphor for Russia
for the country devouring her children
for breakfast lunch and dinner
at any time of day and night

in the comments on the local news site
good people compete in
describing methods of execution
for this woman who had sinned
against her purpose
the public opinion is of one mind
she deserves only death
and as cruel as possible
and preferably public

that’s exactly what
they will do to you
my poor motherland
Medea and AntiOurLady
the boy by the way
was called Rodion
like Dostoevsky’s character



like on war

                               there is eternal war
                               between earth and heaven…
                               Victor Tsoi

the war has always been with us
since our childhood
only it was called
differently –
you should not walk
the streets at nights
you should not be alone
while visiting parks
and when you go home
and enter the building
you should check
that nobody is following you
you must rely only
on yourself
because if something happens
no one will help you
somebody will be killing you
and no one will open
their apartments’ door
and step outside
into the dirty belly
of the building
just try not to let
that happen
the motherland says:
you mustn’t let yourself be killed
and raped
the motherland says:
I need you
the motherland says:
you must produce some
little bit of surplus value
the motherland says:
you must give birth to some
more cops and riot policemen
the motherland says:
they are not in sufficient numbers
in this country
there are so few of them
in this country
and there’s so much chaos
in this country
the motherland says

we will solve this case
when you are killed
with laughter and even
a kind of sympathy
the cops told me
in the meantime my dear lady
find your own solutions
for your own problems
do not disturb our
great commonwealth
and I solved them
I worked and paid taxes
paid extra for better medical help
paid extra to cops
who refused
to do their job
without payment
I yelled at my neighbors
in the next rooms
of our communal apartment
so that they would be afraid of me
and wouldn’t even think
about stabbing or robbing me
in my own beautiful room
I solved my problems myself
I was always ready
for work and self-defense
and I didn’t understand
that it was just a war
the war that
would never end
and now I go outside
and see on the street
riot police and roadblocks
I see lines of paddy wagons
the glitter of shields and the flashing of batons
and understand with relief –
yes it is the war
the war of motherland with me
the war of motherland
with her own citizens
and I feel genuine horror
and admiration
because the form has
finally coincided
with the contents

            January 2021, protests against the conviction of Alexei Navalny


Crying for the lost future

Russia is a great country
they tell us all the time
a country with great past
and equally great future
the whole world is looking at Russia
the defender of values
the keeper of traditions
great russian culture
great russian literature
not to mention the ballet
fine arts and architecture
the whole world has a lot
to learn from us
and we will not refuse
anyone wishing
to enjoy our
invaluable experience

Yevgenia Ginzburg
wrote that in 1944
in the greenhouse of Elgen village’s agrobase
Polina Melnikova hanged herself
she was a former Chinese Russian translator
who went together with Yevgenia
to Kolyma across all the soviet country
in a carriage with the inscription
Polina Melnikova
believed in revolution
she received good education
studied a lot
worked a lot
worked for the good of the country
and the Soviet culture
but the country didn’t need it
all her efforts had absolutely
no value
all her efforts had no future
«Right above the high case with cabbage seedlings
something long and thin dangled quietly from the ceiling.
This something ended with camp boots.
They were frozen solid and thawing now.
Dirty blood sanies oozed from them onto the case.
On the case, under Polina’s very feet,
there was a piece of paper,
anchored by two peat pots.
A gnawed blue pencil lay nearby…<…>
«Enough»… «Tired»… <…>
Who knows why a person suddenly
realises that enough is enough…
The rope has already been cut,
and now Polina lies on the case
next to these half-burnt pots…»
then Yevgenia Ginzburg
wrote about the death of Asya Gudz,
Varlam Shalamov’s sister-in-law.

I think frequently
about this episode
because it was the moment
when the great future of Russia had ended
the great future of Russia was buried under Kolyma hills
with a camp tag on Polina Melnikova’s cold petrified hand
as there is no
great future
for the country diligently
and with obvious pleasure
killing her own children
this country cannot have
any future at all
surely it cannot have

                        January 22, 2022 – 117 years of Bloody Sunday


* * *

stop killing motherland
you’ve been dead for a while
But you’re reaching out your cold
half-rotted fingers
and grab eagerly the living ones
turning them into z-zombies
you’ve been gone
a long time ago motherland
everyone went home
the red flags were taken away
pioneer belts
and young october stars
were thrown away
to the trash
It’s all over motherland
millions of your victims
do not forgive
You killed them motherland
and you does exist anymore
but you keep on
your killing
our motherland-death
the USSR