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Akhmatova by Matthew Dickman

Posted 11.01.12

Poet Matthew Dickman reads "Akhmatova" from his latest collection, Mayakovsky's Revolver, published in October by Norton. 


That’s right! Now I remember. I was on the beach
looking at Haystack Rock,
putting my finger into the mouths of sea anemones,
their tentacles sweeping over my knuckles, I was whispering
the word brother
to one, and the word sister to the other
though maybe they were both. I wanted to be close
to another species. I had been reading about the dark windows
Akhmatova looked through
to see if her son had been let out of prison. As I walked around
the shallow pools
feeling like I had done a good job being myself
I heard my third-grade teacher
whisper into my ear
what’s wrong with you? You want to be stupid your whole life?
She was a nun and wore, I imagined,
a rosary of barbed wire underneath her white blouse.
No matter how long I put my finger into the natural world,
no matter how often I mistake the flies
above the trash for stars, Akhmatova’s son will still be chained
against a wall, the sea will still push
against the rock, and a part of me will be sitting near
a window in homeroom, my head lowered, my skeleton warm
inside my body, my brothers and sisters alive in the salty pools of
the world.

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