“Sometimes, at night, I dream about the boat.”

Below is an entirely unofficial translation of “Иногда ночью мне снится лодка”, by Alexander Pokrovskiy — an old sailor-turned-memoirist, AFAIK entirely unknown in the English reich.



On some nights, I dream about the boat. It is underway, beneath the water.

I dream about it after I’ve had a very tiring day.

The dream is always the same: I am walking from stern to bow, from compartment to compartment, and in each one I meet with the familiar sounds.

In the tenth — the noise of the propeller shaft.

This noise is calming, up to the point when the rudder pump kicks in — a merry and slightly doltish sound, it comes in suddenly, insistently, raucously, it irritates, like a little boy who jumps on your shoulders and demands to play.

“Clack-clack-clack!” — the pump starts up.

Loud, unceremonious, it doesn’t give a damn that you’re there in the compartment, it would do just as well without you — “Clack-clack-clack!”

In the turbine bay below, loud and high-pitched, almost at the edge of hearing, the turbines whistle, the pumps clatter, and the din is such that you are always perplexed — how is it that people endure a four hour watch here.

In the reactor hall, on the walkway deck, the air valves toggle. They do it in such a way that they seem to pronounce the name “Sasha” — “Sssss-shhh-a!” And at the end of a toggle — a thud, after which the pipes moan for a long time, and in your mouth there is an aftertaste of iron.

In the bow compartments, the fans hum.

Meanwhile in the mess hall you can hear the croaking voice of “the classic of Marxism-Leninism.”

It is recorded on a special record, and this record is spun for the sailors. They are having their political session, where they get to hear voices. And all of their faces are stupefied, their lips pucker, like arses.

The sounds on the boat are unpleasant, but one rests easier when they are there. If they die down, silence comes.

Silence attacks. It disquiets.

It begins to seem as if something must happen. People awaken, ragged heads emerge from doors, everyone asks whether something has gone amiss.

Only now the slosh of the water outside can be heard, and suddenly you recall that in fact you are inside a shell, and the shell is submerged beneath thirty metres of sea, and below it the earth is a kilometer down.

An unpleasant thing.

During a dive, the hull is squeezed, and it creaks. The sound — either glass on glass, or as if a stiff and very dry piece of leather were crumpling.

When the reactor’s scram grid is dropped, mechanisms howl as they grind to a halt, cabin and bulkhead doors slam, the tramp of feet is heard.

Under water there are more of these sounds than anyone could use. What’s lacking is the roar of a street in the springtime, shouts, cars, the rustle of leaves, the chirp of sparrows.

Sometimes such sounds are written to tape and played back at dinner time.

But all of this is neither here nor there.

For some reason there is always an itch to know: what’s out there, outside of the pressure hull.

When this desire becomes irresistible, you go to the acoustics – they listen to the ocean.

The ocean crackles, whistles, croaks.

“What’s that?” — you ask them. “Dolphins.” “Let me listen some more”, you fiddle with the headphones for a better fit, now there will be a full bouquet of sounds… and that’s the moment when you wake up.

This entry was written by Stanislav , posted on Thursday May 30 2019 , filed under Books, Distractions, NonLoper, Philology . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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