Anna Razumnaya

An Ark at Sebastopol

The vision of a young girl in Sebastopol, c. 1947:

An ark sat still in the mist, it sat still for some hours when
A few small boats appeared to be moving
Out of the mist towards the shore.
They disappeared in the harbor,
Behind the cape bristling with little pines.

The ark sat still, shimmering in the bright air;
Some hours later, sounds came from its bowels,
The sounds of banging, as if from steel pipes against steel walls.
The ark appeared to be tilted: could it be an optical illusion?
But in another hour there could be no mistake; it was sinking;

The banging grew more rapid, louder, more urgent,
And then another sound was heard. It was heard that night
And the next day: it was howling,
Unlike voices of beasts, unlike human voices,
And yet, one could sense, they were human voices;

The ark sat low and tilted; there was no mistake,
It was sinking, and hundreds of people,
Locked and abandoned in its steel belly,
Howled like beasts, beating
Steel pipes against its insides.

No rescue came from the shore. There were whispers
Among the locals, hushed murmurs
About the convicts and some unexpected necessity
To cut the losses, even at the loss of the ship
And human cargo. Amid the murmurs,

The ark’s descent accelerated slowly,
Quickening in the oblique
Rays of the sinking sun, till at last
There was silence.


ANNA RAZUMNAYA is a literary historian. Her writing and translations have appeared in Pusteblume, Essays in Criticism, and Literary Imagination.