First Anniversary: Reading Russian Literature


No money, so we sip from glass cups niched
In silver holders; I show you how my
Grandmother kept cubes of sugar between
Her teeth, to make life sweeter; I’m reading

Some dead poet (not Zhivago), tracing
Words — samovar, nyet, and the quicksilver
Cyrillic letters twining round the rust-
Dappled canister: Russian Caravan.

How our skin’s slicked with sweat — too hot to
Sleep (or even stand); how all we can
Afford is this: back porch, spiked tea, spotting
These slugs. Each pair’s a heat-slick valentine,

Drooping below the bleeding hearts you snitched
From a neighbor’s garden — swollen pouts that
Blossom in shadow — and, like slugs, salt will
Melt them both. Sugar cube, teacup, mottled

Little leopards, milk-blue tin, pearls of heat,
Fringed branches, slow-swaying swing. You wish, like
A child at Christmas, for snow; I loved you
is all I remember of Pushkin.

(for Harvey)