Translations from Ukrainian by Ali Kinsella and Dzvinia Orlowsky. Bios below.
don’t be afraid
it’s just a breath just a moment
just a train speeding
up into the mountains
it’s a train
a lonely game a short dream
a railcar stopped in the mountains
a small mistake underlined in red
no one is paying attention
everyone has their own soul
their lonely mistakes
a short dream
a red-colored railcar
careening down from the mountain
don’t be afraid
це тільки подих тільки мить
це просто потяг що спішить
угору в гори
самотня гра короткий сон
у горах спинений вагон
маленька помилка підкреслена червоним
ніхто на тебе не зважа
у кожного своя душа
свої самотні помилки і межі смерті
з гори униз неначе сон
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.
“Red Railcar” (Hotel' Tsentral', Hotel Central, 2004) presents a dramatic duality: red is often associated with blood and fire: passion, danger, courage, determination. The railcar itself can be seen as symbolizing life’s journey, embodying power, and strength, but also as an unstoppable, threatening force. 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.