Vera Pavlova

Nebesnoye zhivotnoye. 1997 (The Heavenly Beast)

vera pavlova

This is the way a row of official tulips
commands you “Do not pick the flowers”,
hoping that they’ll be picked up when it gets dark.
This is the way a girl’s vagina, weeping
from virile fingers, pleads for mercy
hoping that mercy will never be granted.
This is the way I pray “Don’t let me live in Russia”
knowing well my prayers will not be answered.

Translated by Derek Walcott and Steven Seymour

 

Vtoroy yazyk.1998 (The Second Language)

vera pavlova

How tender the sensation of ants racing,
how many shivers in a slow progression!
Some take no less than a full five minutes
to get from one vertebra to the next.
For years a gentle hand has been the trainer
coaxing them to run from one tiny hair
to the next, until the finishing line,
until it is madness, until… Hey,
are you sleeping?

Translated by Steven Seymour

Liniya otryva. 2000 (The Tear-off Line)

vera pavlova Sun

How, when the sun first rose,
how frightened everything was.
The grass burned blue, the shadows
lay down, far from where they chose.
Whole armies of angels
demon hordes arose, took flight
in fiery whirlwinds
whirring left to right.
Now trees are blind as moles
now shrubs and grasses close their eyes
that once had razor vision and were wise.
How empty-eyed the rivers are and hills.
Now you and I we train our best
field-glasses where the sun sets, on the West.

Translated by Maura Dooley Terence Dooley

Chetvertyy son. 2000 (The Fourth Dream)

vera pavlova
And God saw
it was good
And Adam saw
it was excellent
And Eve saw
it was passable

Translated by Steven Seymour





Sovershennoletiye. 2001 (Coming of Age)

vera pavlova

Basked in the sun,
listened to birds,
licked off raindrops,
and only in flight
the leaf saw the tree
and grasped
what it had been.

Translated by Steven Seymour




Intimnyi dnevnik otlichnitsy. 2001 (The Intimate Diaru of a Straight-A Schoolgirl)

vera pavlova We would hide behind the house
to play the maternity ward:
would walk around with bellies stuck out,
with a shard of glass would scratch
the bellies that were feeling a chill
to make a white and pink line;
would say: it is up to you,
if the mother lives,
the baby will die,
or the other way around,
in short, it’s either - or,
and no other way out.
But there is. I should have slapped
the silly midwife for her lies,
should have proudly stormed out
of that stupid maternity ward.
I would do so now. But at the time
I bathed in the bliss of shame,
shielded the belly with my hand:
let the baby live.

Translated by Steven Seymour

Vezdes’. 2002 (Here and Everywhere)

vera pavlova If only I knew from what tongue
your I love you has been translated,
if I could find the original,
consult the dictionary
to be sure the rendition is exact:
the translator is not at fault!







Po obe storony potseluya. 2004 (On Both Sides of the Kiss)

vera pavlova I do not mind being away from you.
That is not what the problem is.
You will step out to get cigarettes,
will come back, and realize I have aged.
Lord, what a pitiful,
tedious pantomime!
A click of a lighter in the dark,
one puff, and I am no longer loved.

Translated by Steven Seymour



Ruchnaya klad’. 2006 (Hand-carried Luggage)

vera pavlova

A girl sleeps as if
she were in someone's dream;
a woman sleeps as if
tomorrow a war will begin;
an old woman sleeps as if
it were enough to feign being dead
and death might pass her by
on the far outskirts of sleep.

Translated by Steven Seymour




Pis’ma v sosedniuyu komnatu. 2008 (Letters to the Room Next Door)

vera pavlova

dropped
and falling
from such
heights
for so
long
that
maybe
I will have
enough time
to learn
flying

Translated by Steven Seymour

Tri knigi. 2007(Three Books)

vera pavlova

Eyes of mine,
why so sad?
Am I not cheerful?
Words of mine,
why so rough?
Am I not gentle?
Deeds of mine,
why so silly?
Am I not wise?
Friends of mine,
why so dead?
Am I not strong?

Translated by Steven Seymour

Pis’ma v sosedniuyu komnatu. 2006 (Letters to the Room Next Door)

vera pavlova

On the chin, on its edge,
under the chin many a kiss…
The golden boat trembles
on the surface of closed eyes.
Hair, rowlocks, clavicles,
fuzzy skin, lilies, reeds…
Every particle of me knows
what has happened, what is bound to be.
And I proffer my face, my shoulders
to the miracle as to the wind.
Come and row. A child again,
I will sleep curled up on the stern.

Translated by Steven Seymour



Mudraya dura. 2008 (The Wise Fool)

vera pavlova

A cake of soap, a length of rope,
a chair to hang socks on.
Death from depression seems
a bit ridiculous.
Starless is the abyss,
dark the water’s depth.
Too late for me
to have died young.

Translated by Steven Seymour






На том берегу речи. (On the Other Shore of Speech), 2009

vera pavlova

Why do I recite my poems by heart?
Because I write them by heart,
because I know that kind of spleen
by heart. But I lie to the pen,
not daring to describe how I ambled
along the distant ramparts of love,
barefoot, wearing a birthday suit:
the placental slime and blood.

Translated by Steven Seymour

 

 

 

Iz Vos’mi Knig (From Eight Books) 2009

Selected Poems, 1983-2008. Moscow, AST, 2009.

Memory keeps nothing unnecessary
or superfluous.
How much of your past
am I still to go through?
Taking dreams for memories,
I stroke the sleeper’s head.
A secret poll.
The future comes in last.



Translated by Steven Seymour




The Namesake / Children's Album 2008-2010

The Namesake / Children's Album.
Poems from 2008-2010.
Moscow, AST, 2011

Swallows have turned into ravens.
Bee-keepers have sealed the honey.
Time to pay for funerals.
Time to order tombstones.
Rainey and windy nights
rattle the boarded windows.
Time to finish the requiems
left unfinished by Mozarts.


Translated by Steven Seymour