to be late for one’s flight
Gabriele Münter, Interior (Das Interieur), 1908

Language: Russian 
Poet: Liliya Gazizova 
Translator: Nina Kossman

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to be late for one’s flight

A poem by Liliya Gazizova translated by Nina Kossman

Liliya Gazizova (Kayseri, Turkey) is a poet, essayist, and translator. Born in Kazan (Russia), she graduated from the Kazan Medical Institute as well as from the Moscow Literary Institute (1996). Her publications include fifteen collections of poems published in Russia, Europe and America. Her poems have been translated into many European languages and published in international anthologies. A recipient of several literary awards, she is the executive secretary of the New York-based international magazine Interpoezia as well as the organizer of LADOMIR, the International Khlebnikov Festival (Kazan – Elabuga). Currently, she teaches Russian literature at Erciyes University, Kayseri, Turkey.

Nina Kossman is a bilingual writer, poet, translator of Russian poetry, playwright, and painter. Among her published works are three books of poems, two volumes of translations of Tsvetaeva’s poems, two books of short stories, an anthology she put together for Oxford University Press, and a novel. Her work has been translated into Greek, Japanese, Spanish, Hebrew, Persian, Russian, and Dutch. A recipient of many awards, including an NEA fellowship, grants from the Foundation for Hellenic Culture, the Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, and Fundación Valparaíso, she lives in New York.

Турецкий дождь

Засмотрелась на турецкий дождь, 
Засидевшись в кафе 
С людьми незнакомыми, 
Оттого симпатичными и близкими, 
Глядя на египетский обелиск 
И пробегающих мимо людей без зонтиков, 
Гладя котёнка непрерывно мяукающего 
И ожидающего свою порцию мясного счастья, 
Опоздать на самолёт 
И…  вернуться в кафе. 
Снова всматриваться 
В турецкий дождь 
В ожидании следующего рейса… 

Здесь мало собак, 
А кошки льстивы и требовательны. 
Здесь не торопятся жить, – 
Время тает, как пахлава во рту. 
И по мобильному, 
Как назло, 
А, может, так надо, 
Не дозвониться в Россию. 
…. Ощущаю себя камушком 
У подножия горы. 
И судьба моя, 
И долги перед близкими эфемерны. 
Ненадёжна и легка 
Жизнь в Стамбуле… 

Пишу на салфетках, 
Сидя в кофейне 
У башни Султанахмета. 
Нет бумаги иной. 
Кто знал, 
Что в Стамбуле захочется 
Испещрить кириллицей 
Турецкую бумагу. 
К чему это? 
Турецкому циклу? 
Турецкому короткому счастью моему? 

Знаю девять ступенек Стамбула, 
Последняя из которых ведёт 
К полюбившейся скамейке, 
Возможно, заветной. 
Сидя на ней вечерами, 
Всматриваюсь в Босфор… 
Что надеюсь увидеть там? 
Смотрю на полную луну 
На припозднившихся прохожих. 
И начинаю понимать –  
Девять ступенек Стамбула 
Привели меня не к скамейке –  
Просто мне в руки попала новая книга 
Об иноземной жизни.

Turkish Rain

1

Looking at the Turkish rain, 
Sitting in a café
With strangers
Which is why they seem so nice and close.
Looking at the Egyptian obelisk
And people running past without umbrellas, 
Stroking a constantly meowing kitten,
Awaiting its portion of meat happiness,
To be late for one’s flight
And . . . to return to the café. 
To look again 
At the Turkish rain
While waiting for another flight . . . 

2

There are few dogs here,
And cats are flattering and demanding. 
They are not in a hurry to live here—
Time melts like baklava in your mouth. 
And as luck would have it,
You can’t even reach Russia on your cell phone,
And maybe it should be this way,
To not get through to Russia.
. . . I feel like a pebble 
At the foot of the mountain.
And my fate,
And my debts to my loved ones seem ephemeral. 
Unreliable and light,
My life in Istanbul . . . 

3

I am writing on napkins, 
Sitting in a coffee shop
At the tower of Sultanahmet. 
There is no other paper.
Who knew
That in Istanbul I’d want
To fill Turkish paper
With Cyrillic letters.
What does it bode?
A Turkish cycle?
A short bout of Turkish happiness?

4

I know the nine steps of Istanbul, 
the last of which leads
To my favorite bench,
Perhaps the most treasured one.
I sit on it in the evenings,
And I peer into the Bosphorus . . .  
What do I hope to see there?
Looking at the full moon
And on late passers-by,
I begin to understand—
It was not to this bench
That the nine steps of Istanbul took me—      
I simply got a new book 
On foreign life in my hands.