Where can I hide in this January?
Wide-open city with a mad death-grip…
Can I be drunk from sealed doors? –
I want to bellow from locks and knots…
And the socks of barking back roads,
and the hovels on twisted streets –
and deadbeats hurry into corners
and hurriedly dart back out again…
And into the pit, into the warty dark
I slide, into waterworks of ice,
and I stumble, I eat dead air,
and fevered crows exploding everywhere –
But I cry after them, shouting at
some wickerwork of frozen wood:
A reader! A councillor! A doctor!
A conversation on the spiny stair!
by Осип Эмильевич Мандельштам (Osip Emilyevich Mandelshtam. His surname is commonly latinised as Mandelstam)
translated by Andrew Davis