Anna Akhmatova was Here
(Anna Akhmatova was a celebrated Russian poet who was censored during Soviet times. She was an aristocrat who did not flee the country after the Russian revolution. While I am from a political tradition on the other side of history, I like her poetry and reflected upon her a little while visiting Tashkent, where she lived during WWII. Some of the poem’s images come from Bishkek though…)
Anna Akhmatova was here.
She wrote of tractors while beating down tears the for friends and lovers
ploughed under the earth.
Sentimentality is subversive,
so it is best to forget the things that colored the gray cities.
By the time the snow falls, memories will become monuments
to hide in the overgrown wilds of city parks
or to tuck behind the shuttered museum.
These statues must be stored safely out of sight and out of mind,
lest they become unorthodox idols to a high class poetess or the feminine divine.
Anna Akhmotova was here.
Tashkent was a stop in a long migration of mourning
and a hermitage for the heart that would not leave.
As for me, I am just a traveler and only ghosts stay behind.
So, city is empty of tourists and souls in transit.
I am also a little emptier.