thousands of ballerinas under my skin
Francis Alÿs, Boat With Legs, 2007

Language: Russian 
Poet: Elena Zeifert 
Translator: Dmitri Manin

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thousands of ballerinas under my skin

Three poems by Elena Zeifert translated by Dmitri Manin

Elena Zeifert is a professor of literary studies, author, poet, translator, and literary critic. Her work regularly appears in major literary journals. She has published books of poetry and prose, anthologies, monographs and textbooks. She translates from classical languages, German, Bulgarian and others. Elena has been awarded multiple grants and prizes, including the first prize in Voloshin International Competition (2003) and a major literary award of Baden-Württemberg (2010).

Dmitri Manin is a physicist, programmer, and poetry translator. His translations from English and French into Russian have appeared in book collections. A complete translation of Ted Hughes’ Crow was published by Jaromír Hladík Press in 2020, and a selection of Allen Ginsberg is upcoming in 2021. Dmitri’s Russian-to-English translations have been published in book collections and journals (Cardinal Points, Delos, The Café Review, Metamorphoses and others). In 2017 his translation of a Maria Stepanova poem won the Compass Award competition.

Метафоры на пуантах​

* * *

он думает что он ангел
он ложится на землю
и трётся о неё лопатками
на земле остаются
чешуя
или шерсть

 

Metaphors En Pointe

* * *

he thinks he’s an angel
he lies down on the ground
rubs his shoulder blades against it
what sticks to the ground
is scales
or fur

 

* * *

знаю ли я боль
когда я вспоминаю тебя
тысячи балерин под моей кожей резко встают на пуанты
в былых точках прикосновений твоих пальцев
много раз
я видела
их гладкие причёски

 

* * *

do i know pain
when memories about you come
thousands of ballerinas under my skin sharply get up on pointe
where your fingers touched me in the past
many times
i have seen
their slick hairdos

 

* * *

ещё целуя меня
ты встаёшь и уходишь
оставляя меня одну
в жёлобе безопасности
между рельсами в метро

 

* * *

while still kissing me
you get up and leave
me alone
in the safety pit
between the subway rails