The Manchester Review
Yvonne Green
Senyon Izrailevitch Lipkin: Translations
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In the Tian Shan

A dapper Warsaw tailor watches
a butterfly knock against the throat of a kumgan.
A grey haired golden eagle sleeps on a perch.

Others became ash behind barbed wire
but Zigismund Smetana ends up here,
alone on earth, a single leaf swirls
around his hut.

The mountains are foggy.
Behind them, just think, there's China.

People begin to arrive now,
Sappho with the leader in her saddle,
RAYFO's tax man in corduroy,
a camel and a family

Daylight disappears in dust like a horseman,
quiet sheep flock to their pens,
frozen vineyards hide their leaves,

ovens bake matzas inside the yurts
just as they did in Galilee.

The tailor stands pristine, spotless
under an awning at dusk,
his tape measure round his neck.

He's charred by dead fire.
Treblinka became dust
and left burning embers inside him.

Tian Shan -- mountains in central Asia –
kumgan -- a narrow mouthed, lidded, single-handled ewer
RAYFO -- Rayonny Finansovy Otdel, the district's financial department