Translations from Ukrainian by Ali Kinsella and Dzvinia Orlowsky. Bios below.

Not everyone has returned. Not all names have been revived.
Silence has not yet been lifted from every crime.
Leaden shadows lay at the feet of gray buildings.
Give me their pedigree, from the thirties to the eighties!

Where the state machine ground their bones and minds,
Where the bloody work had not yet stopped,
Let the names converge on dry Kazakh sands,
On Kolyma’s gold dust, on Mordovia’s mud.
Let us into the archives—the lists, the denouncements, reports,
To the soft dispositions, the hard red revolutions,
To know in person who stoked those October embers
And eviscerated the country by counterrevolutionary fires.

Here a people died out. Here vodka crushed parents.
Here peers languished from acetone and rock.
While at the top, powerful portraits of leaders floated,
A mustache twitched, eyebrows furrowed self-righteously.

And when I look at trees in pink dew,
At children, at the honey flowers, which wander the meadows…
Not everyone has returned. But not everyone has gone yet.
Our song is not the same, and all our rebukes have rusted.


Ще не всі повернулись. Не всі імена ожили.
Ще над злочином кожним покрови мовчання не зняті.
Під будівлями сірими тіні похмурі лягли –
Дайте їх родовід, від тридцятих по вісімдесяті!

Де машина державна трощила кістки і мізки,
Де недавно іще не спинялась кривава робота –
Хай зійдуть імена на сухі казахстанські піски,
На піски золоті Колими, на мордовські болота.

Допустіть до архівів – до списків, доносів, заяв,
До м’яких розпоряджень, червоних твердих резолюцій,
Щоб пізнати в лице, хто роздмухав з жовтневих заграв
І спустошив країну пожежами контрреволюцій!

...Тут народ вимирав. Тут горілка чавила батьків.
Тут чамріли ровесники від ацетону і року.
А вгорі пропливали могутні портрети, вождів,
Ворушилися вуса, напучливо кущились брови...

І коли я дивлюсь на дерева в рожевій росі,
На дітей, на квітки медяні, що блукають лугами, —
Ще не всі повернулись, але і пішли ще не всі.
Наша пісня не та, і поржавіли наші нагани.

Dzvinia Orlowsky, a Pushcart Prize poet, award-winning translator, and a founding editor of Four Way Books, is the author of six poetry collections including Bad Harvest, named a 2019 Massachusetts Book Awards “Must Read” in Poetry.

A former Peace Corps Volunteer, Ali Kinsella has been translating from Ukrainian for ten years. Her latest work, Love in Defiance of Pain: Ukrainian Stories, an anthology in support of Ukrainians today, is soon out from Deep Vellum Press.

Their collection of Natalka Bilotserkivets's poetry, Eccentric Days of Hope and Sorrow (Lost Horse Press, 2021) was shortlisted for for the Griffin Poetry Prize and the Derek Wolcott Prize for Poetry.

Translator’s Note

“Not Everyone has Returned,” published in 1989 in her collection Lystopad (November), warns that “silence has not yet been lifted from every crime.” For comfort and spiritual communion, she turns to nature covered with pink dew suggesting tears as well as innocence and children wandering meadows as signs of regeneration and hope. A feeling of unwavering courage is present, as there is in much of Natalka’s work. Her speakers have often suffered unimaginable disasters, both personal and collective, yet they still believe life could improve, that it is worth living. While their aspiration for the future is not naïve, neither is it cynical. Freedom, whether of movement or access to information, is restricted in Natalka’s world. But even within these restrictions, some type of movement is possible; freedom will be found.