We shall meet again, in Petersburg
No map could have illustrated its character,
having survived the schizophrenia of the past century.
Negotiating our way through the crowds,
we arrive in Palace Square,
unprepared for the treasures of the Hermitage.
A mirror of facades, the majestic Neva
barricading the revolution each day in the heart.
We greet The Bronze Horseman crushing treason,
haunted by the fate of Pushkin.
As we leave Yusupov's Palace,
a prayer escapes my lips for Rasputin:
Russia crushed with the weight of its past.
How different from Dostoevsky’s dark world
the light in Sennaya Ploshchad; its tree-lined
canals a haven for all sorts during the White Nights,
perfect after Swan Lake at the Mariinskiy.
Strolling down Nevskiy Prospekt, buying caviar
at Yeliseev’s, window-shopping at Gostinyy Dvor
and Passazh Arcade, its glass canopy turning
sky into ceiling, letting the sunshine flood in -
We emerge at the colonnades of the Kazan Cathedral,
taking in the view across the canal with a church
gleaming in the background, beckoning u
to pray for this paradise built on spilled blood.
From Fire No 26 (2005)