‘What does a certain woman know of the hour of her death?’ - Mandelstam
by Anna Akhmatova
Tallest, suavest of us, why Memory,
forcing you to appear from the past, pass
down a train, swaying, to find me
clear profiled through the window-glass?
Angel or bird? How we debated!
The poet thought you like translucent straw.
Through dark lashes, your eyes, Georgian,
looking, with gentleness, on it all.
Shade, forgive. Blue skies, Flaubert,
Insomnia, late-blooming lilac flower,
bring you, and the magnificence of the year,
nineteen-thirteen, to mind, and your
unclouded temperate afternoon, memory
difficult for me now – Oh, shade!