Semyon Kirsanov
translated by Anselm Hollo
from Red Cats

The Poem


A man.
he is weeping.
    A crumpled
    in his hand.

A hundred steps
    up, he moves
on the escalator.
    Up to the columns
and the bright hall
    —all kinds of men
are floating
    with lowered
    up from the subway—

I see he is losing
    the ground
that was under
    his feet.
He is floating past
    marble wreaths
on the walls
    of this splendid
white vault . . .

    But he doesn't want
to see this
    marvelous hall
in motion.
    His eyes
—no one must notice!—
    are fighting
against the daggers
    of tears. . .
Should I
    go to him,
perhaps say—
    "Anything wrong?"

    No good.
No slow-moving talk
    is going to
help him.
    But perhaps—
A poem,
hot to the rescue—
    to take away
    the burden
of worry,
    even the

to help him
get his foot back
    on the threshold
to make him
        back to life,

            on the small stairs
                of its lines !