by Alexander Gelman

(my translation into English)



Here I was,
walking from a grocery shop,
having bought some variety of foods —
I chose the cheapest —
and so
here I was,
walking along Malaya Bronnaya street
completely happy.
Never ever have I been as happy
as during this evening
being eighty-two and a half years old
never ever have I been so free
so carefree
so couldn’t be bothered
not needed by anyone
not owing anything to anyone
so in love with my wife, as in the old days,
we live like two doves, truly,
never ever to such extent
not preoccupied about tomorrow,
never ever my feelings, my thoughts
have been so pure, so sincere,
nothing behind the scenes, nothing hidden, no secrets,
and no one needed anything from me
and I needed nothing from no one,
and here I was, so full of bliss, like never before,
so encompassed by joy!
Everything in me feels so free now,
my laziness, my imagination, my words,
that do absolutely whatever they want,
interact with each other in unimaginable ways,
they totally drive me crazy sometimes
with their magnificence,
and there is nothing in it about my talent,
it is them, the words themselves, showing their genius.
But hey, you are going to die soon,
you’d say in response to my laudations.
And yes, I will;
there cannot be freedom to live without freedom to die,
it is her, my dear unavoidable death, that will
take me in the end, when she so desires,
it is she who gives me this total freedom to dare
in my old age. Finally,
both my life and my death have become equals,
and as I don’t know what would happen to me, after I meet my death,
she herself, my death, doesn’t know what will happen to her when she meets me,
as she is alive only while I am,
so they do respect each other, my life and my death,
they are good friends, they are sisters! —
and here I was, hugging both of them, walking
along the Malaya Bronnaya street,
through the crowd near the Mikhoels theatre,
it is a premiere night
and the people, carelessly
letting pass a frail old man
with a grocery cart full of veggies
they couldn’t even think, of course,
what happiness
flooded me that evening,
how I was kissing,
oblivious to everything,
with my life and my death
all the way
from the grocery shop to my home.

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