A Letter to My Mother by Sergei Alexsandrovich Yesenin

(Translated 2011 by Russell Bittner)

Hallo one last time, dearest mother of mine,
I trust that you’re keeping my bed
as white as our birches; as starched as our pine;
as clear as our sky overhead.

The rumour now runs: my old mother misses
some devil-- apparently me.
That devil, in truth, remembers her kisses,
her ratty old coat and her tea.

Some evenings, I’ll wager, the vision’s perverse:
a tavern; your boy in a brawl
with sailors whose cunning eviscerates;
worse: his entrails drip script down a wall.

Now pause for a moment to think this one through;
don’t tell me I’ve failed to comply
with wending what may not seem homeward to you,
but is, with a kiss, on the fly.

I think rather not--and trust you’ll make haste
to give this old rumour the lie.
The truth is I’m homesick and don’t want to waste
one swinish night more in this sty.

In spring, I’ll come running back home to your arms
outstretched, bearing handfuls of sage,
if you’ll just relinquish those motherly charms
that can’t come to grips with my age

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