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Inventory of Things Left Behind

by Liana Alaverdova

translation by Lydia Razran Stone


Things left behind: one casserole, enormous,
Ideal for pilaf; great-grandma’s samovar
In brass, antique (or nearly), with medallions;
Assorted works of art: still life with melon;
My portrait (in batik); some child-sized chairs
And table (made by Papa for my daughters);
Fat dictionaries (dog-eared); schoolbooks, texts
In like condition; reproductions, one
(My grandpa’s favorite) depicts Columbus
Disputing with professors (God knows what for);
Striped mattresses, large-sized, handmade by old Elmira
Next door (who washed and dried the wool then beat
It with a stick), who’d sit on our veranda
And talk incessantly about her grandsons
(Who cared nothing for us nor we for them,
And yet somehow we always listened, even
responded); thus we’ll list: one neighbor, also
Veranda, one, glassed-in, but needing repair
(The money for repair required elsewhere),
Whence we had: view of yard with parched acacias
And stunted pine (which clearly could not thrive
In Baku’s heat). We left behind as well:
Bazaar, one, rich in languages and smells
With vendors, brazen and devoid of scruples
Alike as brothers, each one black of mustache
And white of smile (not toothpaste, but genetics).
Let’s add: one boulevard, discreet eyewitness
To adolescent gropings; one cinema
To which we flocked, athirst for spectacle,
And sat in stuffy dark for hours on end
Not knowing then the value of those hours.
Put on our list as well: one childhood friend,
The house she lived in too, though old and damp,
With courtyard like a well and well-worn steps
Predating even Great October, clearly.
Let us complete the list with family graves.
The wind alone now strokes the granite stones
And only rainfall washes them with tears.

What then do we regret?

original poem

Original copyright © 2010 by Liana Alaverdova
Translation copyright © 2010 by Lydia Razran Stone

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