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.
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
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…