The table was turned to light. I lay
my head down like meat on a scale,
my soul throbbing on a thread.
I could see myself from above:
I would have been balanced
by a stout market weight.
                                                I lay
in the middle of the snowy shield
pocked along its western side,
in a circle of never-freezing swamps,
forests with fractured legs
and split-skulled railway stations,
their snowy pates blackened
over and again.
                            On that day,


the clocks stopped, souls of trains
no longer flew along lampless levies,
upon the gray fins of steam;
neither crow weddings nor snowstorms
nor thaws penetrated this limbo
where I lay in disgrace, naked,
in my own blood, outside the future’s
magnetic pull.


But then the wheel of blinding snow
shifted and began to turn on its axle,
and a wedge of seven planes flew low
over my head, turning back,
and gauze grew hard as tree bark
all over my body, and another’s
blood flowed into my veins, and
I breathed like a fish on sand,
swallowing the hard, mica-flecked,
cold and blessed air.


My lips were covered with sores, and also
I was fed by a spoon, and also
I could not remember my name,
but the language of King David came
alive on my tongue.
                                    And then
even the snow disappeared,
and early spring, rising on tiptoes,
draped her green scarf over the trees.

1964

– Arseny Tarkovsky. Field Hospital

translated by Philip Metres and Dimitri Psurtsev

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