In heels and pilfered silks,
In the basement kitchens,
Stirring pots and cooking meals,
Stand the most vile creatures.
And there creatures paint their lips
Over cow’s tongue gathered,
As, abundantly, the milk
Fills their breasts, unwithered.
Five serves them, at their beckon,
Working like a mutt
In their stoves, flames licking
The pots they hide from us.
The buckwheat’s frightening smell
Is torture at their door.
We curse our fate, ourselves,
And curse God all the more.
Our great desire is to vend
The clothes right off our backs,
We watch them from behind,
June 24-26, 1942. 73 Nikolaevskaya [Street].
Translated by Charles Swank and Matvei Yankelevich. © and courtesy of Ugly Duckling Presse, 2016.