Kherson, Evgenia Jen Baranova

Marilyn Higginson, Hazelnuts and Wheat, Oil on Wrapped Canvas, 16 X 20



Солят рыбу. В воздухе прогретом
тонкая сияет чешуя.
Ловит, ловит паутина веток
солнечную простынь за края.

Мне четыре. Я не знаю способ,
как без боя косточку извлечь.
Катятся цветные абрикосы.
Катятся по небу абрикосы,
успевая пятнами обжечь.

Год стоит на редкость урожайный.
Трут малину, выбирают мёд.
Мне четыре. Я узнала тайну.
В том окошке бабушка живёт.

Робкая старушка золотая.
“Съешь три ложки, а потом ложись”.
Посмотри-ка, вот она моргает.
Посмотри-ка, вот она бежит.

Неужели вы её не знали?
Кто тогда нам выключает свет?
Кто нашёл потерянный сандалик?
Трёхколёсный дал велосипед?

С Тошиком возиться без опаски
кто позволил?…
Вечер далеко.
Жизнь сошла коричневою краской
по осколкам дедовых очков.


(translated by Sergey Gerasimov from Russian)

Fish is being salted.
The delicate fish scales
shine in the heated air.
The gossamer branches
pull the bedsheet of sunlight,
catching it by the corners.
I’m four. I don’t know how to remove the pit from
an apricot without struggle.
Colorful apricots roll and roll
across the sky,
scorching my eyes.
The harvest is good this year:
someone grinds raspberries,
someone collects honey.
I am four. I know the secret:
there’s a granny behind that window,
a shy, golden granny.
“Eat three spoons, then go to bed.”
Oh, look, here she winks,
here she hurries.
Did you know her?
Who else turns off our lights?
Who else has found the lost sandal?
Has given me a tricycle?
Who let me play with little Anton?
The evening is still a long, long way away…
My life has peeled off
like the brown paint
from grandpa’s broken glasses.

Evgenia Jen Baranova


Review by Jae Dyche

What I admire most about this poem is how it balances the sentimental with the elegaic. It leaves the reader with a haunting tender impression. The quiet gloom is something I greatly appreciate in Eastern European poetry and find so skillfully done in Kherson.


Review by Jared Pearce

Even as an adult I’m amazed at the care and ability of others, especially my elders who despite my middle age work hard to take care of me. Such a sense is wonderfully, lovingly shared in this poem: the magic of food appearing (both in nature and in the house), of toys, of people. The scene and the emotion emerge organically from the details. My favorite is the apricots dazzling the speaker; for me the speaker is looking up into the apricot tree and the sun pokes through the leaves and fruit, but it seems like the fruit itself is radiant as a star, and the consideration certainly gives weight to the food/comfort of the scene, but also a sense of the fruit’s deliciousness and the grandmother’s work and love. Maybe I’m a sucker for expressions of gratitude, but here I find a sentimentality that is not weak, cliched, or sappy. Rather, here’s a poem that is detailed enough in its experience so as to allow other readers to feeling gratitude for those who have worked hard to love them. Thanks.

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