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Silence

Bella Akhmadulina, with Albert Todd, translated from the Russian by Daniel Halpern

Who was it that took away my voice?
The black wound he left in my throat
Can’t even cry.

March is at work under the snow
And the birds of my throat are dead,
Their gardens turning into dictionaries.

I beg my lips to sing.
I beg the lips of the snowfall,
Of the cliff and the bush to sing.

Between my lips, the round shape
Of the air in my mouth.
Because I can say nothing,

I’ll try anything
For the trees in the snow.
I breathe. I swing my arms and lie.

From this sudden silence,
Like death, that loved
The names of all words,
You raise me now in song.

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