Larissa Shmailo
New Life 5 (A Magpie Translation of Joseph Brodsky)

Imagine twilight in the new life: Clouds formed here
are better than sunlight in the old. Cicadas sing a
sonorous “ch,” and now that the tanks are gone,
a classical perspective reigns, although things remain
vulnerable. And the thoughts of things, how easily one
can forget them! And the thoughts as well that beget them.

Imagine people coming out of rooms, faint, important
only to themselves, where chairs stand, like the letters
“b”and “d,” and save them from falling. They have that
attachment to place, characteristic of Penelope, despite
the white walls with their tidy trim of maize, despite
the old divan, the bare parquet, the yellow Chines vase.

You’ve been saved: Local Pomanas and Venuses don’t
seduce you, and now, having looked Cyclops in the eye,
you don’t suffer much from indifference. You don’t hide
your trumps, or play your cards close to your vest. The crow
sings “kr”at dawn. And you, like him, sing a pastoral song
with no especial fear or love or need to belong.

Imagine the radio is playing an old hymn, weaving
music from the alphabet, now “Betsy.”now “Abraham,”
now “Sam.” The airs hold influences: statues, rules of
multiplication, stamps. In the end, our curiosity about the
boundaries of these places, these once blank spaces, is
a kind of art. Twilight, crepuscule, the last sun’s ray:
In the new life, they don’t tell the moment: Stay.

1  2  3  4