H e a r t   S o n s   &   H e a r t   D a u g h t e r s   of   A l l e n   G i n s b e r g

N a p a l m   H e a l t h   S p a :   R e p o r t   2 0 1 4 :   A r c h i v e s   E d i t i o n






Cleaning Ladies In The Corridors


The old cleaning ladies in the corridors

slowly scrape the floors, like ship decks;

do you hear, they're whispering about something in the stairway,

fearfully hugging the walls,

using long hooks they fish out of the water

rats and bitter dreams.


The rooms all round are filled with shadows,

like battleships with coal;

the cleaning ladies in the corridors

scrape the scales with sharp knives,

shoving huge needles into the morning sun;

the end of autumn approaches

and the skies are so dark, as if someone's piled up

cut off chicken heads

and black roses.


When they wash off the blood

they gather at the train station, drink heated wine

and talk about

how today fish lose their way in the Danube

and can't swim into the shallows

without the help of night lanterns

on ships,

without voices from the shore,

without openings and tunnels

in the damned ice.



(Translated from the Ukrainian  by Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps)



[Originally published in NHS 2004, http://www.poetspath.com/napalm/nhs04/Serhiy_Zhadan.html.]