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In memory of late Ivan

As it turned out, Ivan went to a better place.

A jacket-clad man meets home buyers at his yard.

The place’s spacious: a cellar, a well, and two cowsheds,

“All through persistence”, he laughs, “all by working hard.”

(Is that an excuse in him tossing his head?)

“A pear tree, year by year, heavy with fruit,

Throughout the winter apples stored stay good,

Autumnal garden – Eden-like, lovely!”

Puts plum in his mouth, chews it avidly.

Comes up to kennel, squats, scratches dog’s ear,

“Mukhtar, these are guests, you’re not a shy fool!”

And then story unfolds: how the dog with no fear,

Saved a pair of horses from ravenous wolves.

“His ear half torn, all in blood ran he, caked,

Skin bared to bone, beyond any cure.

I’ve never thought my boy would make it,

A month spent in agony — God's miracle, sure!”

His owner says. Mukhtar licks his face.

The man smiles. “You go away!” he won’t cry.

Humming of bees, scent of acacia and thyme.

Stars — God’s pearls adorn the evening sky.

The man welcomes home buyers, let’s them inside,

“I’ll show you around my eight-year toll.”

Separate rooms, a kitchen, a hall —

Neatly swept, here calmness resides.

He pours them wine, the grape’s home-grown,

The buyers amazed, at loss what to say,

“You know”, he goes on, “much time has flown,

And not a living soul stepped in my doorway.”

A jacket-clad man tells about ajvar

Time to prepare, spices to add, heat to watch after,

“Wait”, he says and at once, in a three-liter jar,

A bunch of carnations appear. Man jokes.

His guests are bursting with laughter.

On the table – a jar with carnations.

His guests, a couple, of childbearing age.

Dog’s head rests in his lap, no agitation;

Cozy delight. The old loner’s happy to engage .

Sees his guests off, waves them goodbye.

“Come here and settle,” the couple’s invited.

Them having left, he comes off balance,

On his way inside, reaches for fence poles.

Takes off his jacket — this cancer won’t recover,

Aged eighty now, what is more to waste,

If he dies straight away? But he’s not in haste,

As long as there’s a friend to watch over.

29 March, 22:08 ·

TUkrainian text by Myroslava Iltyo. Translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team – Apr 10, 2022

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