From “Ithaca”

The night approaches. Dusk drafts on buildings
their future ruins. Dusk deepens windows
and apertures. It hollows stones
with shadows like with water. It foretells
the near death of a hundred clouds
to the shining host. A thin layer of dust,
the seer leaves his footprints on the roofs
as he walks home from the future
not his own, swallowing his voice —
in its rays, fat blood flows down
the golden armor. Wet
blue entrails. Large heads
have rolled down the shoulders.
Speech has grown silent in deep mouths.

The signs of a life without past will emerge
like lies through the lines of an old page,
emptiness will turn into loss,
foreign sand into Ithaca.

Ithaca is the time
when there’ s nowhere to go. If it’ s night,
it means the night is the end of the voyage.
A sackcloth hiding the shoulders
of the stranger is truer than
speeches about past and future
he won’ t make. Nobody
will. On the streets rain readies
hollows for the funeral, already
overgrown with grass.

In a long puddle he sees:
a pauper, a random victim of the skies
hangs with his head down.
In height, he is a cloud, the size
of a lost faith
in returning home.

So should I, a pauper sitting
by a stranger’ s door, declare: I’ m Odysseus,
and I’ m back. Should I say:
I’ m recognized. After the mourning songs
tears are still rolling down my face. I have been
summoned to clothe the past
in the shining ice.

The twilight pushes a heavy box of reflection
out of the windows
and thumbs through a pale face
as if it were a stack of letters lying in a vacuum,
written by an unfamiliar hand.
You are in Ithaca, but you are not yet home.

The soul goes home the way of flesh,
clothed in white rags,
so that to say
upon arrival: I recognize
and I am recognized. Window water,
vapor of window reflections
harden not in the shining of the ice
that has come out of a secret thought,
but from a permanent neighboring frame,
which has embraced life into its shores of death,
where my steps on the sand
are uneven and filled with water.

Old rags are stronger than old life.
Night, like dead water, sows together
the tattered contours of the past.
A stranger’ s death is a seed of your homeland,
sprouting from the graveyard statues,
from the clouds, forever still.

Translated from the Russian