My darling Masha,
you told me and I never believed you.

How far away it all seemed, like another planet,
cold and foreign.

Both poor, but a match could keep us warm,
strong tea could get us drunk.

Then one of us found the truth –
the path, the way, the faith, etc.
The shrines smelled freshly of resin.

I marched off into history;
you stood on the threshold not waving but smiling.

Your smile grew inside me like an extra limb,
an organ which God gave to all creatures
but cut out in a fit of jealousy.

I sweated you out of my system
like a fever, an impurity.
I spat you out like a worm
from the apple I was eating.

Pure, I rose to undreamed heights
like a Rococo angel, and looked down on
a world of rosy-cheeked peasants and stately dances.

Pricked, I sailed down to earth
like a red-faced Baron von Munchhausen.
My children all disowned me.

Now, only reading
shortens the winter evenings
and I think of you.

Where have you been all these years?
Don’t tell me you were recruited
for the legions of the snowy plains.
Don’t tell me you fell foul
of our wooden puppeteers.

How could they, verbless, command
a thing of you, my tender word bed,
stubborn bookend, slender fountain pen.

Come back, I implore you;
close your eyes and touch my typewriter keys.
We’ll play the Yeatses again,
invoke the Muse in a burst of geriatric strength.

Come back from the icy past, darling,
from the Andante in the 10th Symphony,
into the great and empty air in which we live.

This is a different planet, darling.
Come back to me at once.
I’m frightened without you.