The court ruled in favor of the cold,
legitimizing its war on warmth,
with clouds’ indelible stains
overhanging the excavation
of our motherland, ever pregnant with a monster.
When the oldest dies off, a young one is born,
a fresh cobweb king or death cap shroom,
as cuttlefish spout sincere black gore,
besprinkling the sky and emitting clouds
by way of unanimous collective gesture,
and there’s always more where that came from.
But humanists insist history’s court will sort out
the crooked judges, will make their shady lot
kneel on nuts, will boil them into soap.
That’s when there will come an eternal summer morn,
and from then on only poets will be born.
Translated from the Russian by Philip Nikolayev
Tatyana Shcherbina is a poet, essayist, journalist, prose writer, and translator. In 1989–1994, she served as a staff writer for Radio Liberty. Founder and chief editor of Estet magazine (1996), until 1986, she published poems and prose in samizdat (author’s books, publications in Mitin magazine). Her first book of poems, Zero Zero, was published in 1991. She also wrote poetry in French; L’ame deroutee won a prize from the National Center for Literature of France in 1993. She translated many modern French poets and compiled the anthology Modern French Poetry (1995). Her poems are translated into many languages, her books in English are published in the USA (The Score of the Game); Great Britain (Life Without); and New Zealand (An Offshoot of Sense). She has participated in many international poetry festivals (Holland, Canada, France, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia, Italy, Great Britain, Greece), and she performs poetry readings and lectures internationally.