Zinovy Vayman – Haibun for Christine Sterling

Zinovy Vayman

Haibun for Christine Sterling

                          cheap mirror
                          after the round-the-world trip
                          same pepper-and-salt

I open my window.  It is already dark.
My chilhood song sounds in me in Russian:
          Mosk’va-Ka’looga, Los Anzhe’los
          obyedee’neelees v o’deen kol’hos
Nine and nine syllables and a stomping rhyme.  Rhyme inside
the first line too.  I would translate it like: “Moscow, Kaluga and
Los Angeles have united in a single collective farm.”  Kind of stupid. . .

                          in the moonlight
                          star-spangled banner—
                          its stripes black and white

Walking in a safe part of the City of our Lady the Queen of the Angels,
I still sing the short line.  On Olvera Street I see a poster, “Olvera Street
News, Los Angeles, California.  Final Edition.  Printed by M. Tanzini.”
I read, “Life in Los Angeles before the Americans came was an almost
ideal existence.  People lived to love, to be kind, tolerant and contented.
Money, of which there was plenty, was just for necessities.  The men
owned and rode magnificent horses.  The women were flower-like in
silk and laces.  There were picnics into the hills and dancing at night,
moonlight serenades, romance and real happiness.”  That’s what
Christine Sterling wrote about El Pueblo De Nuestra Señora La Reina
de Los Angeles. . .

I recall my chilhood full of golod-kholod (cold-hunger).  “Cold” and
“hunger” form a perfect rhyme in Russian (they differ by just one
consonant).  Fleeting memories of the sad charm of the Moscow
countryside. . .

                          Russian water well:
                          I throw a chained bucket
                          into my dark face.

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