From “Holy Winter” [I remember everything just as it was]

translated from the Russian by Sasha Dugdale

I remember everything just as it was
And even that today is poetry day in the City.
I’ve lost the art myself: poems are the toys of the fortunate
Who like to play at misfortune.
But still, thinking of you all rushing about
From one poetry reading to the next
The taste of wine in your mouths, your wreaths still green —
Not one of you would stem the tide of confessional lyric
Slam your glass down on the table to ask ‘How’s our mate Naso
     getting on?’
Or even ‘Here’s to all those at sea!’

Oh how I’d like to spit a few frozen iambs
Blunt as the points of arrows in these parts —
The only souvenirs manufactured around here.

Excerpts from HOLY WINTER copyright © Maria Stepanova, 2021. Translation copyright © Sasha Dugdale, 2024. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.