An Anthology of Byzantine Poetry by B. Baldwin

By B. Baldwin

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To Telyatnikov’s amazement, the director of the coordinating center’s outer clothing was worn straight over a rather dirty striped sailor’s shirt. ” sighed the State Prize winner, having noticed the glance from across the table. “Who of us has not sinned! ” He reached for a second bottle, which had somehow made its way to the table, and leaning his head to one side, he poured the port. “To us, Sergei! I tell you, middle age has its delights too. ” The professor sniffed and spit on the floor. ” Sergei Sergeyevich made a wry face, but Shepetukha insisted.

In a state of frenzy the assistant professor was digging into a pile of garbage. In less than a minute with a cry of victory he pulled out what had once been his good gray jacket. Holding his breath, his neck twitching nervously, Sergei Sergeyevich thrust his hand into the pocket with the cautiousness of a sapper and pulled into the light a crumpled ball of greasy paper and crushed rectangular white card with a gold border. Holding them in his open palm, he turned to the women and began to sob soundlessly.

Furtively looking round, Telyatnikov gathered the paper ball into his fist and shoved it quickly into his jacket pocket. His hands were trembling, perspiration appeared on his forehead and all over his body. “Semyon,” he said, full of emotion, and tears of gratitude appeared in his eyes. ” But the Shepetukha sitting in front of him for some reason had suddenly lost all interest in his drinking companion. The striped sailor shirt covering his body no longer seemed to be a striped shirt, but looked something like gray hide buried beneath thin hair, and the State Prize winner’s expression was conventionally dull.

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