You are completely free of affectation:
silent you sit, watchfully tense,
just as silence itself pretends to nothing
on a starless night in a fire-gutted city.
Consider that city–it is your past,
wherein you scarcely ever managed to laugh,
now raging through the streets, now sunk in self,
between your insurrections and your calms.
You wanted life and gave it all your strength,
but, sullening spurning everything alive,
this slum of a city suffocated you
with the dreary weight of its architecture.
In it every house was shuttered tight,
in it shrewdness and cynicism ruled,
it never hit its poverty of spirit,
its hate for anyone who wasn’t broken.
And so one night you burned it down
and ran for cover, frightened by the flames,
till chance produced me in your way, the one
you stumbled on when you were fugitive.
I took you in my arms, I felt you tremble,
as quietly your body clung to mine,
not knowing me or caring, but yet,
like an animal, grateful for my pity.
Together then we sallied… where did we go?
Wherever our eyes, in their folly, took us.
But intermittently you had to turn
to watch your past ominously burning.
It burned beyond control, till it was ashes.
And I remain tormented to this day
that you are drawn, as through enchanted,
back to that place where still the embers glow.
You’re here with me, and yet not here.
In fact you have abandoned me. You glide
through the smoldering wreckage of the past,
holding aloft a bluish light in your hand.
What pulls you back? It’s empty and gray there!
Oh the mysterious power of the past!
You never could learn to love it as it was,
but yet you fell madly in love with its ruins.
Ashes and embers must be magnets too.
How can we tell what potencies they hold?
Over what’s where once she set her fire
the incendiary cries like a little child.
– Yevgeny Yevtushenko