the lost place

nettles frame the structure
that the snail trail marks
under black roof rafters
riddled with white sparks

a sea of wet dust
covers former people
too brief was their lust
but now they lie deep all

where a storm called out
from the clouds in vain
and lightning struck the ground
cinders remain

in a couple of years
torment will subside
they’ll provide the meds
dinner will be served

quiet is the hospice
and the prayer hoarse
for the lost place
where my country was

Translated from the Russian by Philip Nikolayev

*

One of Russia’s outstanding living poets, Alexei Tsvetkov is the founder, with Sergey GandlevskyBakhyt Kenjeev, and Alexander Soprovsky, of the Moscow Time poets’ group. In 1975 he was arrested and deported from Moscow and in the same year emigrated to the United States. He edited the emigre newspaper Russkaya Zhizn (San Francisco, 1976–77) and earned a Ph.D. degree from the  University of Michigan. Tsvetkov taught Russian language and literature at Dickinson College, then worked as an international broadcaster at the Voice of America radio station and later at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Munich and Prague. Currently, he is a freelance writer based in New York City and Israel.

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