Winter


O, winter, your gesture,
cold and diligent.
Yes, in you an element
of delicate medicine.

How else could the trusting sickness,
out of darkness and anguish,
toward you suddenly
turn its hand?

O, dear one, be magical.
Touch my forehead again
with your healing kiss,
chill flake of snow.

A temptation, always stronger–
to confront deception with trust,
to look dogs in the eye,
to press my body against trees.

To be equal to a winter day
with its empty oval,
always to be within
its slightness of curve.

To reduce myself to nothing,
that I might call into being
not my shadow, but light,
direct, not blocked by me.


         Russian; trans. Barbara Einzig


Bella Akhmadulina, Russian, trans. Barbara Einzig, Russian Literature Triquarterly.