How many times back and forth: a hundred? A thousand? I could have read the collected works until I know them word for word and always there is that single line which chokes me. Every poem has one, from across the steppes – trans-Siberian – with a weight of spaces simply unimaginable here.

The spine of the book is ruined now, bent and mangled from overuse. It is becoming obvious which poems I read and re-read: “We are like mountain tops”, “Willow”, “Northern Elegies”, “Requiem”. I heard the last recited – not read – in Russian. I still hear it now… not the individual words, but the tone, the music, the pain and the relevance. Those poems – at which the book falls open – they are compass points, the readings from which will guide me to my grave.

Back and forth I read them, and every day they become a little more worn. Every day they weigh that bit heavier.


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