The light here is special. Drenched by blood and frost
So much has happened here. Bronze horseman, burning homes,
Nine hundred days written into symphonies of emptied tear ducts.
"The iron lacework of fences," words of the favoured poet,
I came here to see more than just the railings. My eyes emptied you
Of every detail, draining the swamp, imagining the father finishing son,
Here in this quiet summer house; a death that was not foretold.
In the cold, congealing winter, the line forms of people like ants
Hands outstretched for ice cream, defiant, no defeat this
Even as soldiers, and mothers, and lovers
Saw death’s mission done.
The canal waters are smooth, and the oligarchs make
Patterns with their sleek car on Nevsky Prospekt,
And at the Marinsky, candied ceilings, music pitting the walls,
I think of how it must have been
To beg for black bread on the banks of the slow, straining river.
Nirupama Rao is former spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs. She lives in Delhi