Elaine Feinstein


WE ARE KEEPING AN EYE ON THE GIRLS

We are keeping an eye on the girls, so that the kvass
doesn't go sour in the jug, or the pancakes cold,
counting over the rings, and pouring Anis
into the long bottles with their narrow throats,

straightening tow thread for the peasant woman:
filling the house with the fresh smoke of
incense and we are sailing over Cathedral square
arm in arm with our godfather, silks thundering.

The wet nurse has a screeching cockerel
in her apron - her clothes are like the night.
She announces in an ancient whisper that
a dead young man lies in the chapel.

And an incense cloud wraps the corners
under its own saddened chasuble.
The apple trees are white, like angels - and
the pigeons on them - grey - like incense itself.

And the pilgrim woman sipping kvass from the ladle
on the edge of the couch, is telling
to the very end a tale about Razin
and his most beautiful Persian girl.
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