Looking for Akhmatova
We scoured the scorched city that white-hot summer,
not in search of your words alone,
but the ways in which you had given them:
through vast domes of libraries, wealthy brand-new
bookstores, stale slinking second-hand shops,
that took all our maps to find.
The streets were heavy, we said, at sea
with each other, tourist’s truths and oaths congealing
in dizzy afternoon breezes.
Time escaped in droplets, as if it were
crawling down thinly creased paper.
Later, at the pier, the Neva River around
and beneath us, the sun having draped its pieces
behind that wall of tireless lights,
I stopped being certain we would find you at all—
suddenly entertained the idea that you had departed
like one of your untraceable poem-selves—
a hand passed through prison bars,
the clang of iron reaching for iron.
A Form of Prayer
I will be bicycling—
the streets vacant, canvas shoes pressed urgently
to pedals, mid-August.
Let’s say dusk,
and you, no longer raging in my depths, but rotating:
a perfectly regulated piece of machinery.
This is how I imagine it will be
when I discover I had made a god out of you—
not like Rilke’s solitary Love,
visible as some stars are (only if you look away),
but a comet the world had flattened itself
to watch, your reflections blazing
from the spokes of my wheels, nothing else
perceptible in the sky.
This is how it will be,
when I stop timing your intervals and
monitoring your patterns;
when I understand that no mechanism is more perfect than
its Originator; when the way I ride
becomes like a form of prayer
offered up to the One
who first granted us unbounded motion.
LINNEA NELSON is a graduate of North Dakota State University, where she served as Editor-in-Chief for Northern Eclecta. Her poetry has been published internationally, with work appearing or forthcoming in San Pedro River Review, Tule Review, NEAT., Tribeca Poetry Review, and The New Writer, among other journals, as well as the anthology Leaving My Shadow: A Tribute to Anna Akhmatova. In a very recent past life, Linnea worked as a language assistant at high schools and continued education institutions in Metz, France. She is an MFA candidate in poetry at Oregon State University, where she teaches composition and poetry, and sits on the board of 45th Parallel.