Meet Vera Petrovna! She is a cannibal.
No, it’s not like she boils folks for dinner. She isn’t an animal.
It’s not like she prowls under the cloak of the night, hiding beneath,
Flashing her blade, rattling her cane, sucking her teeth —
No, nay, never! Vera Petrovna grows just like a plant.
Under westerly winds, she assumes an eastward slant.
Under easterly winds, she leans west, and, I’ll have you know,
At those times, Vera doesn’t eat anyone. No.
But whenever a boss, any big or small boss, any boss of any kind,
Speechifying about peace and joy, makes his special sign,
Gives a certain signal, then Vera Petrovna makes sure the sign has been read.
Her shoulders grow wide and her eyes glow a special red.
Her religious feelings, class hatred and virginal honor grow so big, in a beat,
That she begins searching for someone to eat.
Having detected an ugly look, an unpleasant nose, an unwholesome conversation,
A simple Vera Petrovna will write a denunciation.
A sophisticated Vera Petrovna will write an article or a manual,
Titled “The Comprehensive List of Recommendations
………………… For the Identification and Disabling
……………….. Of the Politically Undesirable Elements,
……………….. Which Interfere with Russia’s Ability to Rise From Her Knees and Live in Bliss Perennial.”
But the truest Vera Petrovna knows the best places where they serve human flesh raw,
So she goes to work for the prosecution, for the police, for the law,
Where the meat is fresh, the supply chain is great, and everything works without a hitch.
Plus, eating together is healthier than eating alone, which
Has been proven time and again, no matter the age or the nation in which you eat.
As to the gravy which makes human flesh taste especially sweet,
It should be picked with respect to the era in which you eat it,
Based on the extant norms of how human flesh should be procured and treated.
But then, times change, and the boss gives a sign that active feeding is through.
At once, Vera Petrovna’s back goes slack and she switches her red eyes to blue,
Or brown; her feelings, her hatred, her honor cool down from hot to warm.
Once again, she assumes a regular person’s form.
Then, Vera Petrovna and I have a neighborly chat at the bus stop,
Like, radishes were crappy this year, but potatoes gave us a nice crop,
Like, they said we won’t get any snow in December — but then I see
She is staring intently, strangely, right through my coat, at me,
As though deciding which part of me would be roast and which would be stew.
“Meat’s hard to come by, these days,” she says. “The options are few.
Gotta kill for a decent cut.”
I open my mouth. I can’t speak at all.
I don’t know what to say, I don’t know where to flee; if I’d known, I’d have fled.
The motor is running, my heart is drumming, the bus goes forth at a crawl,
And Vera Petrovna’s eye is glowing blood-red.
(Translated by A.K.)
The Insider – ‘is a Russia-focused, independent media outlet. We’re fully committed to investigative journalism and to debunking fake news. We’re proud of our growing recognition, having received, among many others, The Council of Europe’s Innovation Award, The European Press Prize and the Free Media Award‘. That poem is from the “Meet Vera Petrovna! She is a cannibal.” 10 Russian anti-war poems article.