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Sveta Bodrunova

Tr. Matvei Yankelevich


marie’s diary

I wanted to tell you that the the alpine broom is in blossom,
and the wisteria, the hawthorn, and the irises are also beginning to bloom...
I know you would be happy to hear it.
— from the diary of Marie Sklodowska Curie

... It rained a little; the study smells of greenery,
and the launrdy in the washbasin, and of carbolic acid.
Yesterday a letter was brought “for Monsieur Curie.”
I’m smoking again; you can stop your scolding,
I’ve opened all the windows — I’ve got noone to mistrust.
If you’re standing at the door, it’s still only
your twelve, or my thirteen strides
from the doorstep to the garden gate at full speed.
I’ll describe to you how the garden lives, how it comes to life,
returning every day, turning back,
listen: the alpine broom is back in bloom,
and the wisteria. The irises are opening up.
You’d see it all for yourself, if you were there —
how the hawthorn weeps red tears, and still tart
the taste of green apples, which resist being picked,
and the earth opens up: milk flows from within it,
and the bread breaks evenly in two,
yes, you can hear the milky sob as I write without taking a breath,
but the hand can’t run as fast as I’d like, and the lamp burns at my temple.
It’s cool under the apple trees, the morning inhale is so fresh,
like the evening air, with the addition of light dripping from leaves,
o, how you would like it, if only you were alive
and the world remained full of lies,
but we know the truth, the truth resides in the fact, that you are
no more. Even light footprints can’t be seen
on the washed gravel, only in that great depth
where none of us shall ever be, or even come close.
And from those depths, peeling yourself from the lintel
you walk out into the garden, to gather peace, like a bouquet,
while in my diary the bacon is burning because
I’ve been staring, as if in a trance, as you are greeted by canations,
the rhododendron puts its head on your shoulder,
you stand in this embrace — a man and his flower,
and the sunflower slowly winds out yet another curl,
while its roots are hot below the earth.
If they look for you underground, they will find milk spilled
from my glass, breadcrumbs, and honeysuckle in the wind.
But noone has come yet asking me to give you up.
This is our unbreakable bliss, yours and mine,
That’s the rain again in the yard, beating the pail,
far far away.

to my sister

every morning it happens, and the story’s the same, year in, year out:
how much more time shall I pray for entrance by these bloody doors,
alina, I’ve gotta go, gotta do my makeup, will you get out of the bathroom,
get out of the bathroom, tear your ass off the sofa,
come on, do something, be something, or you’ll waste your whole life away.
and she answers: you should bullshit a little less
and get moving; take a look, I’m so lightly dressed,
my arms are thin, and my skin needs no emollient;
I’m in bloom, I have no eyes with which to learn to be scared of the world;
feed me — I’m hungry when you don’t make me dinner;
won’t you quit your scolding, scoffing, your irony kills me,
who are you judge my three penny role,
it’s true, you wait for me by the bathroom door every morning,
but I’m the one that will never betray you with a kiss,
wait a little, five minutes is no time at all, don’t rush or you’ll lose it,
the sooner you leave, the sooner your fate will catch up,
don’t abandon me, and don’t shout, stupid! stupid!
since I was born I’ve lost to you in the way of strength,
and I am capable of one thing only: I am infinitely more delicate,
here I am, I’ve come out to you, and I love you, I love you.
— me too.

Trans. Matvei Yankelevich
Translation(s) originally commissioned by CEC Artslink on the occasion of the author’s visit to the US as a participant in their Open World program.

Sveta Bodrunova

Sveta Bodrunova

Svetlana Bodrunova (b. 1981, Belarus). She is the author of two books of poetry, including A Walk (2005). Her poetry was anthologized in Contemporary Russian Poetry (Dalkey Archive 2008). She spends her time between Belarus and St. Petersburg.

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