The Griboedov Channel


       My best close friend is the Griboedov Channel. Oval links of his grating are visibly drawn. It seems like the languishing sorrowful sigh "Ooooo" is coming out of him. But only if you look away into the distance, the melody of the cast - iron hoops would change.

       And now the eternally extensive, winding serpentine fence, smoothly rounding crooks, reassures, promising rest and composure. No pits and bumps or shocks. Steep descents open suddenly as the footsteps darkened from the time. The call to the dark depth with no possible return. Ah, this is the risk attraction! But the safety is guaranteed: not far from the slope there are iron rings - "life buoys" - for the unlucky swimmers.

       I love my Channel. What kind of mysteries does he keep under the impermeably gloomy waters? I visit the Channel in summer, when the outboard motorboats are ploughing his mirror-like surface. I walk leisurely in autumn, following with my eyes the flocks of yellow - brown leaves, slowly swimming to the gulf. I call on in winter. The channel is quietly slumbering: his riverbed gets cold, but there is warm steam rising at the banks - the impatient breathing of the big city. The Channel wakes up in spring, and the old poplars are looking into the waters, becoming younger.

       Charmed with the Channel, I return to its banks again and again. Is not it the right time to turn to the Neva, walk through the Moika quay, and stand near the Fontanka? No!

       The First River of the town is too proud and self- confident. Her granite is solemnly dressed up. Playing by her waves, she laughs at the shallow Channel, and at the poverty of the Griboedov's rings. The provincial beauty Moika agrees with her. The starched lace of her grating arouses the rapt attention of the rich mansions, sleeping on her banks. These high societies would not bear negligence. They would not understand the Channel's simplicity.

       Fontanka River meets greets me with the rod's palisade. Seems like inflexible verticals of her grating would pull me into their row against my will, so that I could not dare to think about twisting, sighs, hopes. And even the width of the river is just a deceptive feeling of freedom. There is has the same grating on the other bank.

       So I come back to the Griboedov Channel. He is just the same as me, poor, rough, unclearly twisted. Straightened by the gloomy houses, he inadvertently crosses the streets and prospects. He gets under the feet of people and cars. Idea of filling it up came to the heads of the city several times. But the proud Channel, slipping on the smart bracelets made of bridges on his narrow bed, does not give up. His extent is everlasting. The unpretentious Curvie runs to the distant future from the depth of times. And St. Petersburg is inconceivable without the calm flow of the green waters.


       And here comes spring again. I walk with you through the Griboedov Channel and the twists of his sophisticated bed echo in my memory. Bends, banks, slopes are the landmarks of my life. I don't stumble along the boulders of road: quay has been sealed by the stable asphalt long ago. Only poplars, that have grown stout during long years, scramble the soil. Alas, the trees are hopelessly sick. Rind, that used to be strong, peeled off here and there, uncovering the helpless trunk. I turn my eyes to the azure of the heavens. I feel good together with you.

       You have not changed almost. Your impetuous step has become more staid and yellow - flexed hair lost golden gleam. I cannot understand if you are confused or just calm and indifferent? Again and again I hear the same words: "Understand! You are the second most important person for me. The second person in the whole world! Is that not enough?" I keep silence. It is very difficult to find the reply!

       And here is the Lion Bridge. The lions used to be reddish, same as you, they turned grey. Who painted them white? You crossed the bridge alone in that distant spring. And each of us went his own way. But today we are together again. We are slowly stepping on the wooden decking. We stopped in the middle of the rearing bridge span. I turn my eyes down to the water. There are last dirty - white blocks of ice and winter rubbish: someone's hat, pages of a torn book and chipping old door flowing down. The door into the life that has remained alien to me.

       You are awaiting for my reply? I am whispering the hard words. But you would not hear them. You are far away. There is no one beside me. I am alone. I am always alone. The words silently fell down and melt the friable ice.


       Translated by Irina Silkina