Above the roar of the engines, not a sound, I was left thankfully with my shame; For as I hesitated before the gaping hatch, I forgot to fasten my carbine. With a swoft kick of the knee the instructor Helped me clear the bar of this failing, And I mistook his sleepy curses For the usual: "Go to it, Laddie!" And with a razorís slice of cold The ascending currents from below Tore away my scream And burnt my frozen cheeks. And merrily and carefree The same aerial currents Took my breath away, driving The sound right down to the liver. I fell into their skillful, clutching hands. They moulded me, bounced me this way and that. And, one after another, with acrobatic gaiety I executed a series of incredible stunts. Only later would I find if there was to be Any sense in my falling. Meanwhile... At times the earthly horizon hurtled toward me, At others the clouds beneath me leapt aside. And my scream was torn from me, As my cheeks were shaved By the cold, sharp blade Of the ascending currents. Down to my liver blood was driven By those cruel and elastic Invisibly encountered Currents of the air. I tugged at the ring in a sudden inspiration As one rips off a shirt or the pin of a grenade. However, because Iíd originally been mistaken, I had enjoyed eighteen seconds of free flight. But now misshapen, with a hump on each shoulder, And in each hump a bundle of salutory silk, Iím in love with the target that Iím headed for, Iím in love with this prolonged, fated fall. And my scream is torn from me, And my burning cheeks are shaved, By the cold, clean scrape Of the ascending currents. Down to my liver they penetrate, Whether I breathe in or out, Those soulless, everlasting Currents of the air.
I fly. Triangles, lozenges, and squares Develop into rivers, lakes, and meadows. The accursed air thickens, grows denser - Itís my foe, the parachuteís true slave. Below, the plane is already landing. Having spat me toward the earth in despair, Iíll hit the ground sooner than it does, Thanks to this protracted jump. And my scream is torn from me, And my burning cheeks are shaved By the blunt, cold blade, As the ascending currents comb my hair. A sack behind each shoulder, And my hands clapped to my sides, I confront the fleet and carefree Currents of the air.
An unprecented leap from the depth of the stratosphere. At the signal "Go!", I took a step into nowhere, For the sake of the shadow of a faceless chimera, For the sake of a free fall, I jumped. I plow through the cottony, aerial darkness, The plaything of forces I cannot control. Even falling freely is not possible, Since we do not fall in a vacuum. And my scream is torn form me, My burning cheeks are shaved By the cold, sharp blade Of the currents of the air. Like candles, theyíre lighting bonfires - For Iíll be landing with a jolt - Those upright, irreproachable Currents of the air. The wind oozes in my ear and whispers slyly: "Donít pull the rign, youíll feel the lightness soon." Three hundred meters to impact. Itís almost too late The wind lies. The wind, heís a liar! The straps tug me upward, the dome above me opens, Like a pistol shot - Stop! And those minutes are gone. Thereís no such thing as a truly free fall, Just true freedom to open the parachute. My cheeks grow cool, My eyelids open, The currents fill With concern for man. I stare upward sadly - There the stars are lonely - And drink in horizontally The currents of the air.
© de Cate + Navrozov. Translation, 1995