No, I’m Not Afraid

No, I’m not afraid after a year
Of breathing these prison nights
I will survive into the sadness
To name which is escape.

The cockerel will weep for freedom for me
And here — knee-deep in mire —
My gardens shed their water
And the northern air blows in draughts.

And how am I to carry to an alien planet
What are almost tears, as though towards home …
It isn’t true, I am afraid, my darling!
But make it look as if you haven’t noticed.

— Irina Ratushinskaya
March 4, 1954
(Trans. by David McDuff)

Irina Ratushinskaya was sentenced to seven years in a Soviet labor camp and 5 years of internal exile for “agitation carried on for the purpose of subverting or weakening the Soviet regime.”

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