the simplest, poorest words
as if they had never been said.
We were saying
sun, light, grass
as people pronounce
life, love, strength.
Remembered how we cleared
that eternal, accursed glacier
from the city streets – and an old man
stamped his foot against the pavement,
shouting, ‘Asphalt, friends, asphault!’
As if he were a sailor long ago,
calling out ‘Land, land!’
Ольга Фёдоровна Берггольц (Olga Fyodorovna Berggolts)
a.k.a. Olga Fyodorovna Bergholz
translated by Robert Chandler
Additional information: A Soviet poet, writer, playwright and journalist. She is most famous for her work on the Leningrad radio during the city’s blockade, when she became the symbol of the city’s strength and determination.