How to Survive What Has Already Happened

by Alex Averbuch

translated by Oksana Maksymchuk and Max Rosochinsky


how to survive what has already happened


and at every moment

pulls irresistibly towards itself

come closer



yet you evade it

hide your hands behind your back

turning away your face

as if not recognizing


but as soon as it looms in the distance


something pulls on

the umbilical cord

dragging you into this tinted yellow flow

which remembers with its every bubble

the calm and colorless waters


deprived of the strength to flounder

you grow faint from pain


because now again you’re well

able to see them all so clearly

that only a muted line

separates the two pleas


yours – of not-being-born

theirs – of not-dying


Alex Averbuch, a native of Novoaidar, Luhansk region, Ukraine (b. 1985), is a Ukrainian poet, translator, and scholar. He is the author of three books of poetry and an array of literary translations between Hebrew, Ukrainian, English, and Russian. His poetry, original and in translation, has been published in numerous journals and anthologies. His latest book Zhydivs’kyi korol’ (The Jewish King) was published in 2021 and was a Shevchenko National Prize finalist. Averbuch is active in promoting Ukrainian-Jewish relations. He has translated into Hebrew and published over thirty selections of poetry by contemporary Ukrainian poets. Currently he is compiling and editing an anthology of contemporary Ukrainian poetry in Hebrew translation.

Oksana Maksymchuk and Max Rosochinsky are poets, scholars, and translators. Their translations were featured in such venues as Modern Poetry in Translation, Words Without BordersPoetry International, and Best European Fiction series from Dalkey Archive Press. Winners of the first place in the 2014 Joseph Brodsky-Stephen Spender translation competition, they co-edited Words for War: New Poems from Ukraine, and co-translated Apricots of Donbas, a collection of selected poems by Lyuba Yakimchuk, and The Voices of Babyn Yar, a book of poems by Marianna Kiyanovska. Their work has been supported by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, Ukrainian Book Institute, Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, Peterson Literary Fund, Fulbright Scholar Program, National Endowment for the Humanities, and National Endowment for the Arts.