Black Sun: A Letter to a Brother

March 21, 2022   |   Tags:

From Valery Panyushkin, a Russian writer, posted on YouTube Thursday. It's beautiful and heartbreaking, and I very much regret that so little of its power comes through without the rhyme and meter of the language.

Still, here is a highly imperfect translation (adapted from one by Arik Kruglyak). Even if it doesn't work for you, please forward the YouTube link to any Russian speakers you know; I hope they were as affected by it as I was.

Will this letter some day arrive
To Kiev from Moscow?
Will the brother's letter reach his brother
Or at least his widow?
How are you in the basement? How are you, my dear?
They lit the black sun above us and they call the light darkness.

Listen to me, little brother.
Listen to what I will say.
I found your teddy-bear in the toys,
I hugged it and I'm just sitting like that.
I walked outside, I shouted, "no to war!"
But some brawny guys caught me and beat me up.
How are you in the basement? Can you see this:
They lit the black sun above us and they call the darkness light.

Do you ever get back up to the apartment?
Do you have clean underwear?
Say hello to your wife Irina
And Uncle Ilya.
How is your little troublemaker Lyonya?
How is your son doing?
Probably in the territorial defense forces,
If he is still alive.
And if ever he rises from this sea of fire,
Embrace him,
Embrace him,
Embrace him for me.
How are you in the basement? Can you see this:
They lit the black sun above us and they call the darkness light.

The future will not be,
Not the slightest hope exists.
Some people came to our house
To draw on the doors a "Z."
It remains to be wounded or killed,
An exile or imprisoned.
They reached the end of the alphabet
And beyond there is no language.

I will go open the door for them.
Consider the door unlocked.
I'll be a hero for a moment
And then the darkness will fall

How are you in the basement? Can you see this:
They lit the black sun above us and they call the darkness light.
How are you in the basement? How are you, my dear?
They lit the black sun above us and they call the light darkness.

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