Issue 150, Spring 1999
Two drafts of the last letter the Czarina sent to the Czar at
the front. Exhibits a and b found among her papers. Exhibit
c found among the Czar’s correspondence.
Outside my window, branches are breaking off the trees. The sound of glass shattering
fills my afternoons. I tell myself, this is natural for March: the frozen rain coating each limb.
The weight, the breaking begins when the sky turns plum—we are at tea (the children try
to be so brave for me). They say nothing of the sugar (gone). Or that we share one teaspoon
(the others disappeared in a servant’s apron). But no one comes for tea now anyway.
Our linens smell like metal from lack of change. Alexei’s sheets are dappled brown:
flecks of blood, I’m afraid. There is no one left to clean his terrible spittle. Whom could I ask?
That devil we called friend will not stop his whoring. I fear he may turn on the girls with those
ungodly eyes. The trees are breaking, the sound of the sky falling against the iron-cold courtyard.
No sugar, spoons gone. Where are you? We hear from the soldiers posted at our bedchamber
doors. All is lost. I say come home. How the trees shriek.
Outside my window, March has frozen the trees to glass. They are lovely. The girls lace their hair
with ribbon, admire each other, and pretend they are somewhere else—a half-
imagined affair. I tell them stories of ball gowns and chocolate, of waltzing on rose petals. Their
eyes grow so wide. And Alexei seems to improve in this cold weather. Rasputin remains your loyal