Inna Lisnianskaya: Forty Days

The whole sky enters your eyes. 
All the earth in your wrinkles. 
To start the same life over again 
There's neither cause or reason. 

But friends say that there is. 
They tell me as a noble gesture 
I should nobly bring ends together, 
Rummaging in your archive, 

I who understand what it is, 
Its scale, its look: 
Waves of the desert, surge of the seas,
Strings in David's hands 

                              27 April 2003 

* * * 

My genius of law and order, you fell asleep. 
Grass will grow on your grave 
As if the large mound. 
Which resembles an exercise book 
In which each blade sings. 

To the granite, so you may rest, 
I shall impart the contours of an exercise book, -
Let the memorial stand, a folio. 
Here the Ides of March will be apropos,
My deeply loved man of music! 

With your music, you built a road 
To temple, mosque, synagogue, 
A Christian temple, minarets. 
You knew how to wind your coat like a toga
To wear your beret as a wreath. 

                              29 April 2003 

* * * 

You left me not so much as a shadow. 
I myself was yours. 
What maddened dove beats at the shutter 
So grey feathers fly all about? 

You left not so much as a dream of yourself.
Yet I myself was yours. 
What star stood fast even as it fell
Glittering in your window? 

Our whole world became as you, 
a dream, rejecting darkness. 
You see me as I sit and gnaw my lips 
The twenty-ninth day at the window. 

                              29 April 2003 

* * * 

I bathed your eyelids, chest and belly
With water from the tap, 
And my mouth, a burning wound,
Touched your cold mouth. 

A pillar of salt now, 
I held back my widow's wailing,
standing at your bed-head 
This late spring day. 

It can be seen by the Lord, 
Only an angel guards it, 
For strangers my day is ordinary,
Like your life. 

                              30 April 2003 

* * *

Exhausted, yet I continue to write, 
I write to you by the light of the star 
Where the birds build 
Their heavenly nests. 

And ours, wooden, with the little porch,
Where you'd sit on the steps, 
Is encircled by Saturn's rings 
And the triangles of wings 

of birds that made themselves nests 
In our pine-needly yard. 
Share a widow's grief 
Keep a minute of silence at dawn. 

                              1 May 2003 

Translated from Russian by Daniel Weissbort


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