Two Poems

Originals by Pavel Goldin
“Once long ago, when the bull became” translated, from the Russian, by Jacob A. Sackett-Sanders
“Kuzminishna’s niece” translated, from the Russian, by Linnea M. Paseiro & Dasha Koltunyuk

Once long ago, when the bull became indistinguishable from the cow,
Alice went up on the hill,
and when she woke up in the heather,
quite nearby was a warm, drowsy little girl—
affectionate, like an octopus.

The little girl did everything she had come for,
and Alice wept:
—This isn’t what I wanted,
I wanted to find out what will happen to me,
and how I should live.

The warm little girl licked her ear and whispered,
—We both will work until we die,
and our children will take a ship with white sails,
and sail away to the country our grandfathers sing about at night, —
and there they will finally become gentlemen—
they will learn how to shoot from a pistol
and from a machine gun.


Когда быка стало не отличить от коровы,
Алиса зашла на горку,
а когда очнулась в вереске,
рядом уже была сонная тёплая девочка —
ласковая, как осьминог.

Девочка сделала всё, зачем пришла,
и Алиса заплакала:
— Я хотела совсем не этого,
я хотела узнать, что со мной будет
и как мне жить.

Тёплая девочка лизнула её в ухо и шепнула:
— Мы обе будем работать, пока не сдохнем,
а наши дети сядут на корабль с белыми парусами,
уплывут в страну, о которой поют ночами наши деды, —
и там наконец станут джентльменами —
научатся стрелять из пистолета
и из пулемёта.


Kuzminishna’s niece
dressed in black and pink,
laughed loudly, pointed with her finger,
said – I’m tender, I’m honest,
went to the frontlines to be a good little nurse
in the Caucasus, to fight the Georgians,
was captured, married
the head terrorist,
lives in a harem, goes to mosque,
she called Kuzminishna – she said,
am studying at the academy to be a neurosurgeon,
am making biological robots,
for I’m quite the witch, the sorceress,
we’ll soon come seize you at four in the morning,
we’ll take away Kazan and Kursk,
come visit me, Kuzhminishna,
you’ll eat a bit of raisins, dried apricots.


У Кузьминишны племянница
одевалась в чёрное и розовое,
громко смеялась, тыкала пальцем,
говорила — я нежная, я честная,
пошла на фронт медсестричкой
на Кавказ, воевать с грузинами,
попала в плен, вышла замуж
за главного террориста,
живёт в гареме, ходит в мечеть,
звонила Кузьминишне — говорила,
учусь в академии на нейрохирурга,
делаю биологических роботов,
я же ведьма, волшебница,
скоро захватим вас в четыре утра,
отнимем Казань и Курск,
приезжай ко мне, Кузьминишна,
изюму поешь, кураги.

Pavel Gol’din (born 1978) is a Ukrainian zoologist, evolutionary biologist. He is the author of three books of poetry (Flock of Eared Cinderellas, 2006; A Good Boat Does Not Need A Head And Paws, 2009; Chongulek: Sonets And Songs, 2012).

Jacob A. Sackett-Sanders (he/him) is a writer and translator from Wilmington, Delaware. As an undergrad, he studied Slavic Languages and Literature at Princeton University, with a particular focus on Russian poetry and 20th century Yugoslav writing. Although professionally active in the technology sector, publishing his own novel remains a quiet future goal and eager aspiration.

Dasha (Darya) Koltunyuk completed a summa cum laude degree in Comparative Literature at Princeton University, focusing on the intersection between music and literature. She has performed both as a soloist and a chamber musician throughout the United States, Spain, France, Germany, Holland, and the United Kingdom, while claiming top prizes at national and international competitions. Beyond performance, Koltunyuk has extended her love of music by launching the Opportunity Music Project’s chamber music summer camp for low-income NYC children as a winner of the Davis Project for Peace, and establishing Live Music Meditations at Princeton University Concerts as Outreach Manager for the series, shortly after graduation. She continues to be part of the inspiring team at Princeton University Concerts, living in Princeton, NJ with her soulmate husband, pianist/composer Gregg Kallor, and their tomato plant, Tobias.

Linnea Paseiro, a daughter of immigrants to the U.S. from Cuba and Sweden, grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona and graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Slavic Languages and Literatures in 2014. She subsequently spent several years working abroad – in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Vietnam – before settling back in the U.S. and working in a number of roles across the nonprofit and finance sectors. She is currently a Program Manager at QuestBridge, a college access nonprofit, and lives in Flagstaff with her partner and dog. She has always had a fascination with language and the learning that comes from understanding how other people and cultures express themselves.