Osip Mandelstam: Leningrad

I’m back in the city I’d walk till I cried,
that I knew to my veins and glands as a child.

Back now in Leningrad. Quicker and quicker,
gulp down the fish oil in the lamps by the river.

Make friends with December’s daylight fast,
where a yolk is mixed into the sinister tar.

Petersburg, I’ve no wish to die just yet:
give me those phone numbers of mine you’ve kept.

Petersburg, I still know each and every address
that I’ll need to track down the voices of the dead.

I live on a dark staircase, where the doorbell
dangles from the wall and tolls into my temples.

All night, I wait for our friends to call,
as I move the chains, like shackles, on the door.

1930


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