my neck, small rosary beads,
My hands are hidden in a wide muff,
My eyes look out distracted
Unable to cry.
In the shadow of purpling silk
My face pales,
Brush my eyebrows.
And this is nothing at all like flight,
This slow and uncertain walking
As if there were a raft under my feet
And not the squares of the parquet.
My mouth is slightly open,
My breathing difficult and uneven,
And at my shoulder flowers tremble
The flowers of an unconcluded rendezvous.
--Anna Akhmatova, 1913
translated by Lenore Mayhew & William McNaughton
Copyright c 1989 by Oberlin College. May not be
reproduced without permission.