Wednesday, October 31, 2012

To A Young Woman Poet In Russia

I refuse to—live. To swim on the current of human spines..

                                                           Marina Tsvetaeva

Though you say you do not believe
you sleep in a church to stay warm,
lie on the pew like a dead woman
while stained glass martyrs
keep watch.

A choir of candles
hum their psalm of fire,
but you are unaware, dreaming of dark scenes
and dampness:

The black mountain
blocks out light
and the sea
with its linen strata of sails.

A cherry tree
sags with no fruit. The pail
at its feet collecting
spiders and dew.

And of course, those gates.

One leads into the pasture
where a lover's hands
(smelling of gunpowder)
clutch your shoulders. His voice
begging to come home.

Another, locks the entrance
to an orphanage. Inside
a child peels rust from iron bars
like crust from a slice of bread
while she hungers.

And the last,
guards The Madonna's fountain.
Her stone body
veiled in moss.
Her cool water brimming
with your reflection.

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