The fine Russian poet passed away two days ago. As with all the Russian writers, I have little sense of how lucky or unlucky she was in her English translators, but here’s a poem brought across that vast gulf by F. D. Reeve, published in The Garden: New and Selected Poetry and Prose:
“What’s happened? For the past year I haven’t been able
to write a poem—no longer seem to know how—
have lost the knack—possess nothing tangible
but a heavy dumbness that fills my mouth.”
You’ll say, “But look, now you have a stanza.
Four lines, a quatrain, part of a whole prepared—”
“That’s not what I’m talking about. It’s second nature
for me to slap lines together, word after word.
“The hand’s the one in charge of such arrangements.
No, that’s not what I’m talking about at all.
I meant, before, when it wasn’t just verse that happened
but something else. What was it? I can’t recall.
“I wonder if it felt a sense of fear
back when it had my voice boldly misbehaving
and it laughed like laughter on my open lips
and wept like weeping anytime it wanted?”