I stood in Akhmatova’s kitchen. Clothes hung drying and made the room damp,
said the brochure. People wandered through like in any communal apartment and
whispered into the phone. She walked among them in genteel slippers, halfway to
There is nothing to say that Blok has not said, Mandelstam, Brodsky, Altman,
Modigliani. Tsvetaeva shaped her name into an old and slow lament.
She chose to stay with her people. I sat next to her on a wooden chair, ignoring
the rope and sign. Our mouths were smoky with cigarette and potato. We waited
for the afternoon mail and the fall of the most recent empire, for some word of
what had happened and what was to come.
“Telephone Wire” appeared in Russia in 17 Objects (Tiger’s Eye Press, 2011) and Migrations: Poetry and Prose for Life’s Transitions (Wildwood River Press, 2011).