I

Allow me to dis­agree.
The first presen­ti­ment is not shame –
nothing com­mitted, nothing to be guilty for.
The first presen­ti­ment is an unac­count­able loss,
a feeling that there is some­thing
that was sup­posed to be done some­where,
a for­gotten task that we may or may not
be great enough to fulfil.
I have always claimed a dif­fer­ence
between respons­ib­ility and guilt.

II

Apart from this, I stand by you
for your fight against injustice and falsity.
Am I wrong to blame my mother
and my “situ­ation” for not giving me
the oppor­tun­ities to protest against Babiy Yar
along­side you? For the fact that I have felt
empty and jealous when I hear of those
great dis­cus­sions in Smolny or the Sor­bonne?
Do you ever envy Lenin for having been alive
at the right place and the right time?
Do I ask too much? Per­haps
I should move for­ward, but learn
from the past as you sug­gest.
Ah! But how dif­fi­cult it all seems!
Are you never torn with not knowing?
Do you never yearn to scream in the centre
of the most crowded street
you can find? It can’t be true
that the best poetry is that which is
detached.

III

Ideas escape my fin­gers,
doves I grasp at wildly –
At least I reach out to them –
Slowly moving my hand toward their feathers,
to where they sit patiently, waiting
to fly away the moment I come near –

Unlike those who run at them
like pigeons, screaming wildly to scare
them away. Were they warned once
of beaks and claws? Why are they ter­ri­fied
of these creatures who will be for you
whatever you wish them to be…