Reduced to Black and White

by Carol V. Davis

After a week in Siberia
my world is shrinking.
I gaze out the window
weighing choices:
to go out to buy this or that
or stay in where it is warm.
Early morning, two men stand
between parked cars
smoking in the dark.
Later a worker in orange
overalls scrapes his shovel
against snow and ice
until a rectangle forms,
neat as a cemetery plot.
I wonder how they bury people
in winter with the ground
as unforgiving of the dead
as to the living.
Outside the taste of wood
smoke on the tongue
from villages ringing this city.
I disembark at the university
beneath the gaze of Lenin,
a great stone head sculpted
to have Buryat eyes.
With statues pulled down
all over Russia, curious
that this head still stands,
bodiless thousands
of miles from Moscow.
This morning he wears
a skullcap of snow.
One eyebrow brushed
white as if questioning
why he must endure
sub-freezing temperatures.
After all he did for this country,
doesn’t he deserve
to lay his tired head
somewhere green,
somewhere tropical
without regret,
not frozen all winter
while politicians
argue about his role,
rewriting his fate
this way or that.


Carol V. Davis is the author of Because I Cannot Leave This Body (Truman State Univ. Press, 2017), Between Storms, and won the 2007 T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry for Into the Arms of Pushkin: Poems of St. Petersburg. Twice a Fulbright scholar in Russia, she teaches at Santa Monica College and Antioch Univ. LA and in winter 2018 in Siberia.

1 Comment

Filed under Poetry

One response to “Reduced to Black and White

  1. Elena Anne Corie Marchisotto

    As always, a wonderful poem from this author. Thoughtful, provocative, historically interesting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s