to the memory of Umar S. Israilov
White birches in the distance, standing together
across a snowy field, beneath an arctic blue.
The old reprobate, in the Russian novel, who
gathers every sin unto himself – bellwether,
scapegoat. And the upstart ne-er-do-well
(out of Chechnya, maybe) who turns at last
toward the fiery salt... gunned down so fast
on a Vienna boulevard... all shot to hell.
Truth bears it price, when the Kremlin athlete
fires off decrees like javelins, now here,
now there – when a sullen Ministry of Fear
files latest headlines in the morgue (fresh meat).
But it shall not be so with you. Through gaps
between white birches, a blue air whistles –
my gypsy companion, my old hobo friend, still
figures her escape route (above the treetops).
There where a pendentive dome hovers – there
where the light rays in a ring, and whispers;
there, above every hopeless enterprise –
beyond this blustering violence that rules the air.
Once, there were long summers under the pines
when we read together from strange tender books,
bound together in their sheltering shells, locked
in their scalloped waves, reverberant. Friends,
let's go back there again : to the early world.
A perfect opalescent ray mirrors the sun, when
your free wave plays in the wind, O almond one.
One clear glance lets fall its limpid, lasting pearl.