A blind man was riding an unheated train,
From Bryansk he was traveling home with his fate.
Fate whispered to him so the whole car could hear:
And why should you care about blindness and war?
It’s good, she was saying, you’re sightless and poor.
If you were not blind, you’d never survive.
The Germans won’t kill you, you’re nothing to them.
Allow me to lift that bag on your shoulder—
The one with the holes, the empty torn one.
Let me just raise your eyelids wide open.
The blind man was traveling home with his fate,
Now thankful for blindness. Happy about it.
NOTES: Written in a cargo train, between Bryansk and Zhivodovka, 1943
Source: Poetry (June 2011).
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This poem originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of Poetry magazine
Poems by Arseny Tarkovsky