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On the Anniversary of Joseph Brodsky’s Death

(January 2001)

Archangelsk, the briny cold, the frigid Baltics,
Children throwing snowballs at Soviet statues.

The Arctic chill of the moon at midday,
The trees wrapped, the pedestrians bundled.

How the sun shivered behind the smokestacks
Like a soldier frozen in place.

At the dimly lit Museum of the Far North
The subject was the poet’s internal exile,

Metaphysics versus History, and the fateful
Struggle between Poetry and Time,

A Cold War that will never end.
Also, his love for watery ports

And stubborn cats, especially the Russian
Blue that hailed from the White Sea.

Afterwards, a slushy walk, salty air,
Sleep in an overcoat in a converted barracks.

All night I heard the muffled boots
Of an army marching through the streets

Under the thick cover of darkness.
But in the morning, anniversary mourning,

I woke to a magisterial silence.
Snow occupied the city.

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