Григорий Батрынча

translation from Russian by Yana Kane, edited by Bruce Esrig

* * *

the twinkling and hushing song doesn’t stop
drip after drip drop after drop
each house is marked on each a black smear

the heart of the sergeant is creaky with rust
love isn’t victorious life doesn’t last
does it mean we too are powerless and hardened
does it

fairy tale boat my boat light and small
may peaceful skies fill my dreams as night falls
may I wish I haven’t been born at all
may I lie under a birch in the mud
may my lips not be anointed with blood

* * *

no one should see the error
to cross out the error is not enough
you must scribble over it
so it doesn’t show at all

the hand moves around like the sensor in a polygraph
what shall we shut off this time
how about your own heartbeat
it’s possible to control the breath
it’s possible to bring time to a crawl
to hear homeless noise in the ears
but you can’t get rid of errors


not lying but laying
you made another error
you botched it
cross out
cover up
scribble over
hide away
take down

there you go
you made another mess
another error
error error error
tear out the page
start over
how many attempts remain
until the ink runs out
until the white-out runs out
until the fog runs out

you can take an eraser
you can take a blade
scrape everything off
so that nothing remains

no one should see the error
therefore I stand up before a mirror
and close my eyes

I will slash and I will hit
all the same now you are it.

* * *

for all those years
that I’ve been pointlessly trampling the soil
I still haven’t learned
to speak candidly about myself
therefore I’d rather tell about my father:

father stayed in jail
stood in jail
lay in jail
ate in jail
slept in jail
but never
sent letters from there.

father used to say he loved me
and mama
(who always waited for him
but never could understand him)
and life
(that gave him yet another chance
to start afresh)
and our dog
(the only memento
I’ve left of it
is a pale scar on my arm),
yet he never would tell
whether all this could come to an end.

father would leave to forage for mushrooms
and come back two years later
a totally altered person
back then I hadn’t grasped yet
how a mushroom-foraging trip
could change everything so much.

one time
father bought an axe
and set it down on the balcony
for the rest of his life
he hadn’t remembered even once
about its existence.

father brought home paintings
sometimes clocks
sometimes music boxes
never explaining where they came from
they simply showed up—
hung on the walls
stood on the shelves,
as if this was just how it should be,
as if this were the right spots for them,

father took me fishing
and got furious
when I let go the caught fish
he would tell me that all the same
it won’t be able to live normally
now with its hook-torn mouth
but in the end
the very same way
he let me go,

that axe by the way
is still lying out on the balcony
gathering dust and memories
but not fulfilling its true purpose
the same way my father
is lying now
somewhere in the soil
just like the axe
on the balcony

Yana Kane was born in the Soviet Union and came to the US as a refugee at the age of 16. She has a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Princeton University, and a PhD in Statistics from Cornell University. Currently, she works as a senior principal engineer in data science. Yana is a student in Fairleigh Dickinson University’s MFA program in Creative Writing, where she has been awarded the Mitch and Lynn Baumeister Scholarship. Родилась и выросла в Ленинграде. В детстве училась в литературном объединении (ЛИТО) под руководством Вячеслава Лейкина. Эмигрировала в США в возрасте 16 лет. Закончила школу в Нью-Йорке, получила степень бакалавра по информатике в Принстонском университете, затем степень доктора философии в области статистики в Корнеллском университете. Работает ведущим инженером. Учится в Университете Фэрли Дикинсон в магистратуре с двойной специализацией: литературный перевод и поэзия. Пишет стихи и прозу на русском и английском языках. Переводит стихи с русского на английский и с английского на русский. Книга стихов и прозы Яны Кане «Равноденствие» вышла в 2019 году. Книга стихов и переводов на русском и английском языках «Зимородок / Kingfisher» с предисловием Дмитрия Быкова вышла в 2020 году. Недавние публикации стихов и переводов можно найти на сайтах https://eastwestliteraryforum.com/ и https://litpoint.press/ .

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