She was a mere student,
She used to pop into the church to light a candle.
He was a member of the church choir,
His face was full of light, serious,
He’s got the eyes of a deer -
It would be enough to take anyone’s breath away.
When he was reading the Psalms
His voice was like
an angelical sword
to destroy the enemies of faith.
He taught her the catechism
Before her baptism,
Then – educated her
In preparation for Confession and Holy Communion.
Then they had a church wedding
For a distant village.
People called her ‘matushka’
For the reason being that
Her husband was a priest.
(‘Our priest is a kind of prophet,
A seer, you know,
being so young!’).
She had been trying to work at the village school,
To become one of them
Using some make-up.
(But she never wore jeans, though.)
She had been working hard in the garden,
Getting used to her children and illnesses.
In the fifth year
He left her
With two children
In their shanty church house,
whose walls were moaning from the wind.
‘It is the last time,
We cannot reach our salvation
In our wedlock.
Watch ye and pray’.
In saying that
He put a leathern girdle about his loins
For a monastery.
‘Sister, you said? Sister?!
You bastard! Sister?..’
Oh, I wish I could see the truth!..
Look – can’t you see it clearly –
There is no God,
No that damned God of yours!
Beating her breast with her little fists –
The clenched fingers are dead-white, sobbing…
That’s us, that’s us,
Tears, you’ve got tears now,
It will help you, it definitely will,
My sweet lassie, my little darling,
I’m with you,
We’ll make it together…
She is crying
burying her face
in my side, smeared with some scarlet stuff –
is that the lipstick or
with water and blood.
(Trans. by Olga and Robert Jarman)