Loneliness

Masha Ivashintsova, Krasnoi Konnitsy [Red Cavalry] Street, Leningrad, Winter 1977. Shot with a Zeiss Ikoflex 6×6. Courtesy of Facebook
When your weary mind
loses its balance,
when the steps of this staircase
give way beneath your feet
like a ship’s deck,
when your nocturnal solitude
doesn’t give a hoot about humanity,

you can
reflect on eternity
and doubt the purity
of ideas, theories, modes
of art appreciation
and, interestingly, the conception
by Madonna of her son Jesus.

But it’s better to worship what’s given
with its deep graves.
Later,
many years from now,
they shall seem so dear.

Yes, better worship what’s given
with its short roads.
Later you’ll find them
strangely
large,
wide,
dusty,
strewn with compromises.
They’ll seem like large wings.
They’ll seem like large birds.

Yes, better worship what’s given
with its wretched standards.
Later, to the nth degree,
they’ll serve as a railing
(though not a particularly clean one),
keeping your hobbling truths
in balance
on this chipped staircase.

1959

Original text. Thanks to Katya Vidre for the suggestion. Translated by the Russian Reader

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