I know precisely when it happened --
Monday, the twenty-first. At night,
the roofs of the city enshrouded in mist --
and what -- some idling fool decided
there was a thing in the world called love.
And look at us -- from boredom
or laziness, we bought the lie
and we live it thus: daily we
look forward to meetings; nightly
we dread the moment of parting.
And, oh, we fall slaves
to every passing love song.
But, gradually, this thing I know
will be passed on to everyone,
and a hush will descend.
I figured this out by accident,
and since, have parted ways
from the self I was formerly.
--- Anna Akhmatova, 1917
Somewhere, a nameless man,
a cipher in an unmapped gulag
makes, and conceals
beneath his dank straw bed,
a birch-bark notebook.
With god knows only what for ink
he writes this poem from memory.
"Akhmatova," he sighs. "I love her."
They have never met. Her bleak work
and its desolating music
his one last link to things of beauty.