Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Maria Stepanova

Aida

Beautiful, quiet, or rather: she hardly knows Russian,
I like her surroundings, the gingerbread, sugar and all the halvah,
All and all manner of halvah that’s exuding praise,
When she’s in the corner and weighing out the goods.

Her fingers take tangerines by the sides, the freight
Of greenish, stepped-on, sweetly moaning pears – by the neck,
She loads the dark flesh of eggplant into the white
Flesh of rustling plastic; and the price list is born.
While the persimmon is like a mother to her, and she doesn’t look at it
And feels shame for her public profession.

I ask her a question, and she doesn’t give an answer.
I drop by like a thief, and she won’t restrain the thief.
Her weak, her cheap labor force
Is all gathered in her arms and won’t tolerate conversation.

Her father and everyone’s will descend upon us like an avalanche,
The moment she doesn’t turn out to be a virgin.
Her father and everyone’s, the elder guide,
Head doctor of an empty mountain hospital,
Where someone’s ribs, like the mother’s womb, are stretched
And fear pulls apart eyelashes that were squeezed flat.

Her father and everyone’s, he’s coming after his dotter,
Along the dark route he stretches by day and by night, 
Like a stripe of fug on a train car’s walls.
When his armies make their way into the city,
And stick like a bone in the throat by Red Square,
And go along ambulance roads, easing their hunger,
Taking the fox-fur coats off the homespun poor,

We’ll wait for them beneath the mound,
Where Yulia the manager swore at her today.

Aida

Prachtig, het Russisch niet machtig dus hoog is haar zwijggehalte,
Haar hele omgeving, koek, suiker en stroop, bevalt me,
Alle en allerhande koek scheidt zoete koek en hulde
Af als zij in de hoek de waar aan het wegen is.

Ze pakt een pomerans bij de lurven, en bij de nek
De gekneusde, kreunende peren, geurig en lek,
Ze doopt het donkere vlees van de aubergine
In knerpend plastic; een prijssticker komt tot stand.
De kaki is haar als moeder; die kijkt ze niet aan
Want geneert zich voor haar openbaar beroep.

Ik heb haar een vraag gesteld en krijg er geen antwoord op.
Ik kom om te stelen, zij doet niets tegen het stelen.
Haar werkkracht, zwak en goedkoop, zit geheel en al
In de handen en kan een gesprek niet velen.

Haar en allemans vader komt over ons als een lawine
Zodra ze niet kuis meer blijkt, geen seconde later,
De jeugdopperleider, haar en allemans vader,
Het hoofd van een leegstaand ziekenhuis in de bergen
Vol ribben uiteengetrokken als vrouwendijen,
En stijf dichtgeperste wimpers opengeschrokken.

Haar en allemans vader komt dochter roepen,
Trekt langs de zwarte snelweg dagen en nachten
Als langs de treinruit een nevelstrook. Zijn de troepen
Eenmaal de hoofdstad binnengeslopen, dan staan ze
Als een verslikbotje dwars op het Rode plein,
Schieten als sneltreinen door in hongerig zwelgen
Om rondhangende skaters uit hun jakken te helpen,

Onder de grafheuvel zullen we op ze wachten,
Waar manager Joelja haar pas nog de oren waste.

Аида

Красивая, молчаливая, то есть по-русски едва-едва,
Мне нравится ее окружение, пряники, сахар и вся халва,
Вся и всяческая халва источает хвалу,
Когда она в углу и отвешивает товар.

Пальцы ее берут за бока померанцы, за шеи – груз
Зеленоватых, стоптанных, сладко стонущих груш,
Темную плоть баклажана она погружает в белую
Плоть хрустящего пластика; и рождается ценник.
А хурма ей – как мать, и она на нее не глядит
И стыдится своей публичной профессии.

Я задаю ей вопрос, и она не дает ответа.
Я захожу как вор, и она не удержит вора.
Слабая ее, ее дешевая рабочая сила
Вся собралась в руках и не вынесет разговора.

Ее и общий отец сойдет на ны, как лавина,
Едва она окажется не невинна.
Ее и общий отец, старший вожатый,
Главный врач нагорной пустой больницы,
Где чьи-то ребра, как ложесна, разжаты
И страх разводит сплюснутые ресницы.

Ее и общий отец, он грядет за дочью,
По темной трассе тянется днем и ночью,
Как полоса тумана у стен вагона.
Когда его армии проберутся в город
И станут у Красной площади костью в горле
И скорым пойдут по путям, утоляя голод,
Снимая тулупчики у самокатной голи,

Мы будем их дожидаться на дне кургана,
Где менеджер Юля сегодня ее ругала.
Close

Aida

Beautiful, quiet, or rather: she hardly knows Russian,
I like her surroundings, the gingerbread, sugar and all the halvah,
All and all manner of halvah that’s exuding praise,
When she’s in the corner and weighing out the goods.

Her fingers take tangerines by the sides, the freight
Of greenish, stepped-on, sweetly moaning pears – by the neck,
She loads the dark flesh of eggplant into the white
Flesh of rustling plastic; and the price list is born.
While the persimmon is like a mother to her, and she doesn’t look at it
And feels shame for her public profession.

I ask her a question, and she doesn’t give an answer.
I drop by like a thief, and she won’t restrain the thief.
Her weak, her cheap labor force
Is all gathered in her arms and won’t tolerate conversation.

Her father and everyone’s will descend upon us like an avalanche,
The moment she doesn’t turn out to be a virgin.
Her father and everyone’s, the elder guide,
Head doctor of an empty mountain hospital,
Where someone’s ribs, like the mother’s womb, are stretched
And fear pulls apart eyelashes that were squeezed flat.

Her father and everyone’s, he’s coming after his dotter,
Along the dark route he stretches by day and by night, 
Like a stripe of fug on a train car’s walls.
When his armies make their way into the city,
And stick like a bone in the throat by Red Square,
And go along ambulance roads, easing their hunger,
Taking the fox-fur coats off the homespun poor,

We’ll wait for them beneath the mound,
Where Yulia the manager swore at her today.

Aida

Beautiful, quiet, or rather: she hardly knows Russian,
I like her surroundings, the gingerbread, sugar and all the halvah,
All and all manner of halvah that’s exuding praise,
When she’s in the corner and weighing out the goods.

Her fingers take tangerines by the sides, the freight
Of greenish, stepped-on, sweetly moaning pears – by the neck,
She loads the dark flesh of eggplant into the white
Flesh of rustling plastic; and the price list is born.
While the persimmon is like a mother to her, and she doesn’t look at it
And feels shame for her public profession.

I ask her a question, and she doesn’t give an answer.
I drop by like a thief, and she won’t restrain the thief.
Her weak, her cheap labor force
Is all gathered in her arms and won’t tolerate conversation.

Her father and everyone’s will descend upon us like an avalanche,
The moment she doesn’t turn out to be a virgin.
Her father and everyone’s, the elder guide,
Head doctor of an empty mountain hospital,
Where someone’s ribs, like the mother’s womb, are stretched
And fear pulls apart eyelashes that were squeezed flat.

Her father and everyone’s, he’s coming after his dotter,
Along the dark route he stretches by day and by night, 
Like a stripe of fug on a train car’s walls.
When his armies make their way into the city,
And stick like a bone in the throat by Red Square,
And go along ambulance roads, easing their hunger,
Taking the fox-fur coats off the homespun poor,

We’ll wait for them beneath the mound,
Where Yulia the manager swore at her today.
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère