Ludmila Khersonsky

Two Poems
June 1, 2021 Khersonsky Ludmila



War catches a man with a shopping bag
walking home from the market.
In the shopping bag: a bottle of milk, a loaf of bread.

And the war is laughing:
“Where is the salt? Fool. And matches?”
And the man asks,
“What use do I have for matches? Or salt?”
And the war answers:
“You’ll know soon enough.”


Хуже всего, когда война застает человека с авоськой,
когда он возвращается из магазина.
В авоське – бутылка молока и буханка хлеба.
А война смеется: – Купил бы соль, мыло и спички.
А человек спрашивает: – Да зачем же мне соль и спички?
А война отвечает: – Затем, что еще пригодится.




Look at her, she’s lost her tongue.
What is it all called?
How to name each thing without language?
And, look– the boy who can’t walk,
he was also silent yesterday – his tongue sank,
and so he beat himself on the lips, trying to make a sound,
it did not work, and it did not work, and he waved his hand like he had done before—
and so he turned away, waving his hand goodbye.


Дивіться на неї, вона втратила мову,
якою це все називається.
Без мови ніяк не назвати.
Хлопчик-каліка, не може ходити,
теж вчора мовчав – язик запав,
він бив себе по губах, хотів витягти звук,
але не вийшло, і встати не вийшло, і замахав рукою,
як він робив раніше, коли відвертався і прощався.

Ludmila Khersonsky’s debut poetry collection was named among the ten best books of the year in 2011. Since then, she has published several other collections of poetry. Her work has been awarded Voloshin Prize and her poems regularly appear in periodicals in Russia, Ukraine, and elsewhere.