A Yevtushenko Favorite

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IN MEMORY OF THE POET XENIA NEKRASOVA

I’ll never forget about Ksiusha,

Ksiusha,

who looked so like a ninny,

with her squinting eyes,

her pockmarks.

And how was she to blame?

Her blame

lay in her pockmarks,

her squinting eyes,

and the unsightly dresses she wore…

What did she really want of us?

A kindly smile,

a glass of lemonade,

that we print her verse from time to time

and accept her, Ksiusha, as a writer…

In general, we gave her the lemonade,

but as for the kindly smile–

hardly that.

We even paid her an occasional small fee,

but we wouldn’t accept her as a writer,

because our moral guardians

had decided

she wasn’t normal.

You,

who are so revoltingly normal,

you

are abnormal from birth.

How could you understand that Ksiusha

was full of courage

and pregnant with music?

Thus, our Ksiusha lay in her coffin.

She held her hands clasped on her belly,

as though she were gently protecting

an infant in it…

But as for you,

with what are you pregnant?

With music maybe?

Or merely with bones of contention?

Why do you brag of denying your bodies,

you

who are pregnant only with barrenness

You shall not be forgiven

on poor Ksiusha’s account.

You’ll have to pay

for Ksiusha’s soul.

–Yevgeny Yevtushenko

1959

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