He didn’t come back from the battle
Now the world seems so strange, though it looks just the same:
Skies are blue as the iris petal,
Just the same are the forest, the river, the flame,
But he didn’t come back from the battle.
I don’t see who was right in the disputes we had,
I cannot understand who was better…
Yet I started to miss him as soon as this lad
Failed to come back alive from the battle.
With his gibberish talk he would wake me at dawn,
He would not let me sleep with his prattle;
His remarks would be wrong, he would slip in a song,
But he yesterday fell in the battle.
It’s not loneliness that I’m talking about;
We were two – and no one can reset it…
By the wind my campfire at once was put out
When he didn’t return from the battle.
To the troubles we have, our dead will respond,
They’ll protect our values and treasures,
Skies reflect in the forest as if in the pond
And the trees look as if painted azure.
Spring has just shaken off winter’s shackles. And I
Simply called him, forgetting the matter:
“Buddy, leave me a drag!” – but there is no reply,
He would never come back from the battle.
In the dug-out we had I would share with him
Time and space and a battered old kettle…
Now I own them alone. But I really seem
To have fallen myself in the battle.
© George Tokarev. Translation, 1998