Transitions №3

Author: Anastasia Strokina

Translated by Anton Yakovlev

My Heroes

I’ve cleared the snow off the paths.
I look out the window.
The heroes of my childhood are shoving and fighting each other,
shaking the apple tree:
magnificent pirates,
liberators and conquerors,
what have you become?
Who lives in the lands you’ve liberated or conquered?
Climb out of the snowdrifts, come in.
The heroes of my youth
huddle by the door,
smoke and warm up their voices, tune their guitars.
Extraterrestrial actors and musicians,
where is your revelation?
Who lives in the Americas you’ve discovered?
Oh well, who cares. Come in.
The heroes of my adulthood—
there are none.
Their absence is as unexpected as to wake up
My unrealized heroes,
don’t stand there
in the wet snow. Come in.
Funny and pathetic,
but mainly funny,
let’s forgive each other
for naiveté,

In Memory of Grandmother

Your voice like a motorboat
in an ocean of swelling sounds
takes me away from polyphony
into warm waters of silence.

Again I visit you on Vasilievsky Island.
Your orphaned dresses still hang in the closet,
except one—
the black one, with starched cuffs.
a conversation between the dead
and the unborn.

Thirty-seven books,
a woolen rug,
an armchair made in Yugoslavia,
a cabinet with a secret drawer
with photographs and documents wrapped in a towel,
a glass for a false jaw,
a wig pulled over a vase,
a notebook,
a mirror,
three hundred grams of ashes.

The Pine
                     For Antero Laine, who always kept his optimism,
                     with gratitude for our conversations in Finnish

Creak, pine, don’t be silent—
in the spring
when crocuses blossom on his daughter’s chest;
in the summer
when his wife once again won’t call him
on his birthday;
creak, pine –
in the fall
when out of habit
he gathers enough mushrooms for everyone;
in the winter
when in an ocean of snow
his parents’ crosses are like two black buoys.

* * *

The younger brother I never had
tells me: you know things I will never know:
they ironed your Young Pioneer’s kerchief in the morning,
you collected Turbo stickers,
you even remember great-grandmother.
And this sounds approximately like:
you wore a hat with a veil,
you collected daguerreotypes,
you worked as a nurse in the First World War!
The older sister I never had
tells me: you have yet so much to learn,
you will understand so many things,
you will have your own garden,
and you will tell your daughter
about the curly-haired grape dragon.
And this sounds approximately like:
in a couple hundred years
in a space suit with built-in artificial intelligence on another planet
you will be showing humanoids
a hologram of Earth.