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Poetry

Eddie’s Funeral

By Amarsana Ulzytuev
Translated from Russian by Alex Cigale

Businessman from Mongolia. Irkutsk

Like a raven on a stripped branch, sitting alone on the roof of
a highrise.
Having lost everything, from the height of the thirteenth floor,
dangles his feet.
The angels of death—the photographers, TV journalists—
have already turned on their cameras,
The embassy, the other side of the sacred shore, has already been
notified.

Enkh Etrech, dear one, what have you forgotten in Siberia’s
region of hungry ghosts?
Oh, to ride on horseback at a gallop, on the steppes of
Alpine meadows,
You even found the time to say—you love this city,
this forested country,
You bestow as though a souvenir from Ulan Bator your corpse to
the EST rescuer.

So what could the fool of a rescuer rescue if he’s not
the savior Buddha,
Could he return to you the dough lost yesterday
at the roulette table,
The flame of desire is eternal—so sayeth the Sitter in the Lotus,
Nothing left to extinguish the debt with, the Chinese dragon
burning up the soul . . . .

Enkh Etretch, my dear man, why did you, as a child with a top,
play the wheel of Samsara,
Bleating from the fold, mustangs thunder, trade in steppe songs
for poker chips, and the stars?
Mute and unhearing, heir to the human clan’s sacred sayings,
unbounded willfulness,
Heedless to gasps and groans, all gallop toward ancestral bones
on horseback, all apple dappled . . .

 

Eddie’s Funeral

Coffin, and what a coffin, your brother Eric, that great carpenter,
crafted.
Tom-toms’ thunder, music of the spheres, the black-eyed widow
wailing;
The two-meter-long fish obscures everything with its silver
scales,
Filling the confines of the dead fisherman’s earthen hut.

Yes, your friends and relatives have made you a farewell gift
Of a magnificent and blinding hope, Eddie;
They cradle and lull you in it as though inside a crib,
Then send you off on your final path with dances and song.

Awake!—the widow sings.—Get up, you old lazybones!
Your hungry children are begging you for a bite of a fish!
What are you waiting for, go and catch us something to eat!
We need you, you big swarthy oaf!

But his dirty ears are resistant to their tender entreating,
And the thick lips will not stretch from these ears into a smile;
His drunk friends carry his fish-of-a-coffin while play-fighting,
For Eddie loved his drop to drink, and of course, to rumble.

Shoulder to it! and the fish barely lurching shifts forward;
Shouts from behind: “Turn around, Eddie’s forgot something—
the spirits are speaking!”
The funeral procession shuffles thus, first forward then
backward,
By turns chanting mournful praises, then merrily dancing
onward . . . .

 

© Amarsana Ulzytuev. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2017 by Alex Cigale. All rights reserved.

English Russian

Businessman from Mongolia. Irkutsk

Like a raven on a stripped branch, sitting alone on the roof of
a highrise.
Having lost everything, from the height of the thirteenth floor,
dangles his feet.
The angels of death—the photographers, TV journalists—
have already turned on their cameras,
The embassy, the other side of the sacred shore, has already been
notified.

Enkh Etrech, dear one, what have you forgotten in Siberia’s
region of hungry ghosts?
Oh, to ride on horseback at a gallop, on the steppes of
Alpine meadows,
You even found the time to say—you love this city,
this forested country,
You bestow as though a souvenir from Ulan Bator your corpse to
the EST rescuer.

So what could the fool of a rescuer rescue if he’s not
the savior Buddha,
Could he return to you the dough lost yesterday
at the roulette table,
The flame of desire is eternal—so sayeth the Sitter in the Lotus,
Nothing left to extinguish the debt with, the Chinese dragon
burning up the soul . . . .

Enkh Etretch, my dear man, why did you, as a child with a top,
play the wheel of Samsara,
Bleating from the fold, mustangs thunder, trade in steppe songs
for poker chips, and the stars?
Mute and unhearing, heir to the human clan’s sacred sayings,
unbounded willfulness,
Heedless to gasps and groans, all gallop toward ancestral bones
on horseback, all apple dappled . . .

 

Eddie’s Funeral

Coffin, and what a coffin, your brother Eric, that great carpenter,
crafted.
Tom-toms’ thunder, music of the spheres, the black-eyed widow
wailing;
The two-meter-long fish obscures everything with its silver
scales,
Filling the confines of the dead fisherman’s earthen hut.

Yes, your friends and relatives have made you a farewell gift
Of a magnificent and blinding hope, Eddie;
They cradle and lull you in it as though inside a crib,
Then send you off on your final path with dances and song.

Awake!—the widow sings.—Get up, you old lazybones!
Your hungry children are begging you for a bite of a fish!
What are you waiting for, go and catch us something to eat!
We need you, you big swarthy oaf!

But his dirty ears are resistant to their tender entreating,
And the thick lips will not stretch from these ears into a smile;
His drunk friends carry his fish-of-a-coffin while play-fighting,
For Eddie loved his drop to drink, and of course, to rumble.

Shoulder to it! and the fish barely lurching shifts forward;
Shouts from behind: “Turn around, Eddie’s forgot something—
the spirits are speaking!”
The funeral procession shuffles thus, first forward then
backward,
By turns chanting mournful praises, then merrily dancing
onward . . . .

 

© Amarsana Ulzytuev. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2017 by Alex Cigale. All rights reserved.

БИЗНЕСМЕН ИЗ МОНГОЛИИ. ИРКУТСК

Как ворон на голой ветке, на крыше высотки сидит одиноко,
Вконец обанкротившийся, с высоты 13-го этажа, свесил ноги,
Включили уже свои камеры ангелы смерти — фотографы и ТВ-журналисты,
В консульство, на том берегу священного моря, уже позвонили.
Энх Этреч, дорогой, что ты забыл в краю голодных духов сибирских,
Эх, да чтобы верхом на лошадке скакать, да по степям по альпийским,
Даже успеваешь сказать — что люб тебе этот град, эта страна лесная,
Даришь в качестве сувенира из Улан-Батора свой труп спасателю из МЧС…
Да и что этот глупый спасатель смог бы, он что ли спаситель Будда,
Да и разве вернул бы он бабки, проигранные вчера в рулетку,
Вечен смертный огонь желаний — так говорил Сидящий на Лотосе,
Нечем было долг погасить, китайским драконом испепеливший душу…
Энх Этреч, дорогой, зачем ты играл, как дитя с волчком, с колесом Сансары,
Смех отар, гул табунов, песни степей кинул за россыпь фишек и звезд?
Глух и нем потомок людей сокровенных сказаний и длинной воли,
А́хам и óхам чужий, все скачет к родным пепелищам на пегой в яблоках…

 

 

ПОХОРОНЫ ЭДДИ

Гроб, ай да гроб смастерил брат твой Эрик, плотник великий,
Гром тамтамов, музыку сфер, вопль черноокой вдовы
Заслонила огромная рыбина с серебряной чешуей,
Заполонила хижину бедного рыбака.

Да, ослепительную мечту твою
Дарят тебе родственники и друзья на прощанье, Эдди,
Укладывают в нее тебя, как в люльку,
Баюкают в последний путь песнями и плясками.

Проснись! — поет вдова. — Вставай, лентяй!
Просят твои детки голодные рыбы кусочек!
Ну же, иди и поймай нам немного еды!
Нужен ты нам, черный верзила!

Только не слышат его черные уши нежные речи,
Толстые губы не вытянутся до этих ушей от улыбки,
Рыбу-гроб несут пьяные друзья его и понарошку дерутся,
Ибо любил Эдди выпить и, конечно, подраться.

Оп! и рыба слегка накренилась и двинулась вспять,
Окрики сзади: “Вертаемся, Эдди что-то дома забыл — духи велят!”
Так двигается траурная процессия то вперед, то назад,
То распевая черные псалмы, то приплясывая…

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