We are in this flat in Tallin.
We share it with just one book.
It is Pushkin’s Complete Poems.
We go and look at Tallin.
We sit and look at each other.
We sit and look at Pushkin.
Tallin speaks a foreign language.
We have nothing to say to each other.
Pushkin has nothing to say to us.
Pushkin is lines on a page.
He is Russian translated into Estonian.
We cannot read either language.
We look from one to the other.
We cannot read our expressions.
We sleep in separate beds.
Pushkin looks from one to the other.
He cannot read our expressions.
He shrugs back into the page
and pulls his stanzas about him.
They had not heard the full consort before:
the way the wave gathers and spills,
taking its cue from and returning to stasis.
In the Interval they scamper among the music-stands:
“Here’s the Viola --- isn’t its brown
tone like the stain on the refectory table!”
A day they are rehearsing for memory ---
their animation defies annotation:
a pizzicato chatter, an aleatory chorus.
Sandra screwed the Social for all she could get.
Alice milked her employer for excess profits.
Jane turned bendy bits of plastic into hard cash.
Andrea supplied consumer demand on street corners.
None of them got the Queen’s Award for Industry.
None of them got a PPS and a Ministerial Post
for Private Development.
Each of them got eighteen months in the country
and enforced idleness. All expenses paid, of course.
I was dumbfounded when he said
‘Mr Zed, you’re finished.
Get shut o’ those tools.
Dae awa’ wi’ ‘em’’.
I was staggered when he said
‘Mr Zed, you’re buggered.
You’re to be fitted for a pacemaker.’
It came very hard.
I was amazed when he said
‘Is he dead, Mrs Zed?’
When they put the wires round my head
and sent me through the chamber.
I was scared when he said
‘Are you Mr Zed?’’
I want to put the electrics on you.’
It made my body gang altogether.
I’m starting to disfigure myself
through being out of sorts.
And the worst of all my troubles? ---
‘It’s hit or miss’ he said.
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