A huge angel stands atop Noah's ark, its back turned towards the entwined mass of drowning creatures; people pray and one holds her baby aloft; serpents tussle among the dying. Etching by L. Friedrich after W. Kaulbach. Courtesy of Wellcome Collection.

All animals were once human, but then
they sinned—
and God flooded our Earth
and Noah smuggled all those former humans in pairs. Each of them
was wicked, deceitful. And so God
and St. Peter turned each of them
into an ox, to plow the field, into
a horse to be whipped. But those
who were most deceitful, God
left in the shape of human beings, as a punishment.



Все звери когда-то были людьми, но потом
все согрешили – сами тому виной.
И Бог наслал на всех людей всемирный потоп,
и всех бывших людей по паре вывез в ковчеге Ной.
Каждый из них был порочен, блудлив и лжив.
Ослушанье и грех никогда не приводят к добру.
Все они провинились и, согрешив,
на глаза попались Господу и святому Петру.
И их превратили – каждого за свой грех –
кого в вола – пахали на нем, кого в коня – били плетьми.
А тех людей, кто провинился более всех,
Бог в наказание так и оставил людьми.

Boris Khersonsky is widely regarded as one of Ukraine’s most prominent Russian-language poets and was a part of the Samizdat movement, which disseminated alternative, non-conformist literature in the USSR. After the fall of the USSR, he published many books of poetry which have been widely translated.

Katie Farris is the author of Boysgirls (Tupelo Press) and A Net to Catch My Body in Its Weaving, which won the Chad Walsh Prize from Beloit Poetry Journal. Her book, Standing in the Forrest of Being Alive, is forthcoming from Alice James Books in 2023.

Ilya Kaminsky is the author of Dancing in Odessa (Tupelo Press) and Deaf Republic (Graywolf Press), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry.