One More Sip and Down The Tube
In a little café over Notting Hill Gate tube station
I sat and drank coffee.
I sat where I could see out to the street,
And I was over thirty.
And so as to divert myself, I watched
The people out there and the way they walked.
(And who was smiling and who was wearing
What slogan on his or her tee-shirt.)
And I saw a girl
Rise up from the depths.
Unlike the rest of the pack,
She was not awkward at all,
As if the street was just for her,
No obstacles, straight ahead.
She walked with measured pace –
How she managed to pass everyone is a mystery.
In five minutes it began to rain,
My poem being finished.
However close she passes, she doesn’t touch a soul.
It’s as if, for her, the crowd was more transparent than the ether.
A female basketball player maybe would walk this way.
Probably this is how Zemphira’d walk.
Perhaps this is Zemphira
(Yes, particularly here, out of all the world’s capitals –
It must be Zemphira.)
And soon the asphalt gulf will close over me.
And I shall leave the capuccino to be remembered by.
by Aleksei Vernitski
Note: Zemphira is a contemporary Russian pop-singer, formerly a basketball star, who writes her own lyrics. She records her albums in London and one of her latest hits is “Mne prisnilos’ nebo Londona” (I saw London’s sky in a dream).
Translated by Daniel Weissbort
Source: Modern Poetry in Translation