The Poetry Project

Stella Hayes


We drove through a field of white on white, a light held back from light. The birch forest made a clearing—. As a boy-in-mourning, Yuri Zhivago climbed up on his mother’s grave on the morning of her burial. The dead soil giving in—, to dead soil. The grave a lightless hump. With outstretched neck & head turned up to a heavenly body— he performed a movement that to the crowd gathered— looked like a beginning of a howl. I howled like a wolf cub as a girl at papa’s funeral. The airless winter morning rehearsed its own ending—. Lumping lumps of snow were cleared by the gravedigger for his grave. When I feel the wet heaviness of snow on my retreating hand, I think of Yuri’s disappearance, the snow & Pasternak refusing his Nobel Prize. Won’t you give up on me—. I keep secrets, as they keep me.

Issue 16