Monday, July 27, 2009


This one reminds me of the scene in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, where the firemen go into the woman's house to destroy her books and she chooses to die rather than give them up. She couldn't stop the firemen's overt actions, but by claiming her agency, she subverted their power over her and ultimately planted seeds of discord and doubt. (Boy, do I sound like an English teacher!) My husband always says that she is me. I'd like to think that I was that brave, but ...

c g flames


- Katherine Gallagher
(for Anna Akhmatova)

A woman sits in a corner of sun
tracing a poem. Slowly
she is woven into it like the day
as smells of burning
carry her outside.

There, soldiers and jailers
are blocking the street,

books are being burnt—
thousands of words collapsing
in on each other. Suddenly
she sees her own fate,
her fellow-poet is taken
leaving her only silence.

She goes back to continue the poem:
it will go on for twenty years

islanded in her head
and Russia will remember her
as a lover
waiting for the ice-walls to break,
for her hermit’s cry
to be carried like fire
from hand to hand.

Aint' I A Woman! A Book of Woman's poetry From Around the World, Edited by Illona Linthwaite

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