Serhiy Zhadan, 2002

This has started up again for the zillionth time,
but I’m talking as if I’m seeing her for the first time–
everything is like it always was, but today the wind
is freezing in the mailboxes
and copper coins ring sadly
in the match boxes.

You’re simply approaching that time of your life
when you start dreaming of people your age,
as if time ran backwards, searching for something.
How many of those ever-hungry wolf cubs are still alive?
All their journeys to nowhere
usually started on main streets.
To end up watching life from the windows of bus stations,
to die on a never-ending road –
ten years ago you, too,
used someone else’s
shampoo so often
that your hair at times lost
its own smell.

And now dreams break off
in your body like long distance conversations
on buses in July,
their seats smelling of sandalwood and St. John’s wort
as you return to your town
where every summer you find
rusty blades in the bathroom
and soda machines in the street.

What has changed? The trees have grown,
the old movie houses have disappeared
and so have dairy shops.
Only rainwater remains as sweet,
especially on apples
which grow heavy
and fall down down onto the ground
smashed to bits
under the burning sky.


translated from the Ukrainian by Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps

links to more poems by Serhiy Zhadan