Issue 145, Winter 1997
Another feast day, and the bells are ringing.
The bells are ringing, and not more
than a handful of versts from here,
in the garden of dead hypotheses,
Russia is rising from beds
lavish with nettles and pokeweed,
and from the stalks of fennel obscuring
the mildewed statuary.
Not more than a handful of versts from here,
closer than we thought was possible,
the Tartar ponies are pawing at their stakes,
the tents of the Golden Horde
are stretching from here to there.
Closer than we thought was possible,
Basil, Yaroslavl, the Pantokrator,
the fifth of fifty five-year plans,
the Vladimir Mother of God.
Much has happened in the years between
1200 A.D. and today, and it is
happening again right now.
To lighten the sleigh, a young girl
is being thrown to the wolves.
The Metropolitan is telling the Old Believers
that only with beauty can we coax
the divine into our nets.
The bones of the young girl thrown to the wolves
are half-immersed in strong moonlight.
Thunder in the faraway altitudes,
vacant and subliminal,
is throwing off the rhythms
of the villagers sheaving the rye.