Did you have your reservations from the start?
Questions of travel (whether South or North)
two most intentional cities (Brasilia dowagered
St. Leninburg some time ago in this regard)
and two rivers - one where
almost no one rows,
the other where, when
blessing the fleet,
priests stand, the jetty
Samaritan Death -
were, you wagered,
all too close to being
in fine straits -
the sort of stark places
Finland (or Newfoundland inland) looks
pretty triste (like Nova Scotia) on the way
over to but utterly beautiful
on the way back from
a flower of cultivation or civilization
the last frozen rose
had you arrived
six months to either side
or ten years to the month before,
when in the pre-Hecuban thaw
lamp-high drifts imploded
in Akhmatovian loaves
and balls of frostbound,
on its cadaverous macadam sidewalks,
called it Petropolis, transparent, green,
the city where that "we will bury you"
referred not to Nikita and the West,
but to an erstwhile lover and the sun.
"One almost envies them a bit - who feel
that they are so important, and perhaps
they are, those Russian poets. Anyway,
the party seems afraid of them, whereas
I doubt that any poet (maybe Pound -
poor wretched Pound! - ) has ever really bothered
the US government, or all that much..."
It's been a kind of blessing, I expect,
that though we taught for two years in the same
brick building in the Yard (albeit you
went to the basement, not the second floor)
we never met. Imagine my chagrin,
if you had thought I just might be the "John"
you'd gotten such perturbing letters from!
And as your plane wrote slant across the sky
disturbing letters that a wedge of cranes
you saw when craning backward seemed to match
in contre-jour against witch-hazel branches
the stewardess brought supper on a tray:
stepping stones became
steep in tardy snow:
discarded after-dinner mints
in two linen rows
where spilt milk flows.
Subtle? Silly? Who knows
to what laughable lengths we'll go
to make a point.
All the same -
huddled weeping willows,
moths, flame -
we still make sense:
the sort that hints
some larger joint
adventure than chance