Helsinki. April & snowing. I walked to the Strindberg Café for coffee.
I walked & counted my steps.
Down the wintry Esplanade I went
My footfalls muffled by snow.
I could hear my heart beating under the sweater.
“My heart,” I thought, “is gliding without me.”
The heart like a rich man in his sleigh…
(I was at step thirty; halfway to go…)
Just to amuse myself
I pictured my heart as the last Czar of Russia.
It was going to the opera–the grandeur of Boris Gudonov,
That terrible dance with death & the hands of a nightmare clock…the palace
Like a ship on the winter sea…the audience hushed, not a soul breathing…
& Chaliapin standing in a staged moonbeam,
Hands pressed to either side of his enormous head,
His twisted, bearded face raised to the wheeling, soulless stars.
That’s how it was. I would soon find the doors of the café.
Chaliapin saw the angel of winter, something at once cruel & beautiful as a swan
& reached for a low note, a gasp from the plates of the earth.