Osip Mandelstam is writing his poem with a piece of glass on a black fir tree. His wife Nadezhda is watching so she will remember what he has written. The poem is about Osip’s childhood, and the long river to Siberia, and the sound of bells ringing, and a fire in the Red Square. Osip writes by the light of a fish-oil lamp. When he is finished he hides the piece of glass in Nadezhda’s sleeve. They bury the lamp. They gather cobwebs from the tree branches to wrap around them as they sleep. Nadezhda nestles into Osip’s beard and puts her hand on his chest. They both know he will not wake in the morning.
Michael Battisto has work that can be found or forthcoming in The Normal School, HAD, Poet Lore, Flypaper Lit, The Shore, MoonPark Review, and elsewhere. He has lived in many places, but now he lives in Oakland. You can find him on Twitter @mbattisto3 or @michaelbattisto.com.