I am out before dawn, marching a small dog through a meager park Boulevards angle away, newspapers fly around like blind white birds Two days in a row I have not seen the meteors though the radio news says they are overhead Leonid's brimstones are barred by clouds; I cannot read the signs in heaven, I cannot see night rendered into fire And yet I do believe a net of glitter is above me You would not think I still knew these things: I get on the train, I buy the food, I sweep, discuss, consider gloves or boots, and in the summer, open windows, find beads to string with pearls You would not think that I had survived anything but the life you see me living now In the darkness, the dog stops and sniffs the air She has been alone, she has known danger, and so now she watches for it always and I agree, with the conviction of my mistakes. But in the second part of my life, slowly, slowly, I begin to counsel bravery. Slowly, slowly, I begin to feel the planets turning, and I am turning toward the crackling shower of their sparks These are the mysteries I could not approach when I was younger: the boulevards, the meteors, the deep desires that split the sky Walking down the paths of the cold park I remember myself, the one who can wait out anything So I caution the dog to go silently, to bear with me the burden of knowing what spins on and on above our heads For this is our reward:Come Armageddon, come fire or flood, come love, not love, millennia of portents-- there is a future in which the dog and I are laughing Born into it, the mystery, I know we will be saved
Our Post-Soviet History Unfolds
This is what she says about Russia, in the year 2000, in a restaurant on Prince Street, late on a summer night She says: all the chandeliers were broken and in the winter, you couldn’t get a drink, not even that piss from Finland. The whole country was going crazy. She thinks she is speaking about the days before she left, but I think, actually, that she is recounting history. Somebody should be writing all this down Or not. Perhaps the transition from Communism to a post-Soviet federation as seen through the eyes of a woman who was hoping, at least, for an influx of French cosmetics is of interest only to me. And why not? It seems that the fall of a great empire—revolution! murder! famine! martial music!—has had a personal effect. Picture an old movie: here is the spinning globe, the dotted line moving, dash by dash, from Moscow across the ocean to New York and it’s headed straight for me. Another blonde with an accent: the city’s full of them. Nostrovya! A toast to how often I don’t know what’s coming at me next. So here is a list of what she left behind: a husband, an abortion, a mathematical education, and a black market career in trading currencies. And what she brought: a gray poodle, eight dresses and a fearful combination of hope, sarcasm, and steel-eyed desire to which I have surrendered. And now I know her secrets: she will never give up smoking. She would have crawled across Eastern Europe and fed that dog her own blood if she had to. And her mother’s secrets: she would have thought, at last, that you were safe with me. She hated men. Let me, then, acknowledge that last generation of the women of the enemy: they are a mystery to me. They would be a mystery even to my most liberal-minded friends. That’s not to say that the daughter, this new democrat, can’t be a handful. And sometimes noisy: One of those girls you see now (ice blue manicure, real diamonds and lots of DKNY) leans over from the next table and says, Can’t you ask your wife to hold it down? My wife? I suppose I should be insulted, but I think it’s funny. This is a dangerous woman they want to quiet here. A woman who could sew gold into the ragged lining of anybody’s coffin. Who knows that money does buy freedom. Who just this morning has obtained a cell phone with a bonus plan. She has it with her, and I believe she means to use it. Soon, she will be calling everyone, just to wake them up.