Some lines for Yevgeny Yevtushenko

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Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Some lines for Yevgeny on his departure to parts unknown…

Quietly in a cup of hot chai
Besides the swift stream of the living soul
Beneath the portrait of the Mother
On that table without a cover
With that worn-out wood and those wine stains

On those chairs that remember the war
Never mind which, they are all alike
Leave only that one window open
Yes, the one near the kitchen
For the wind would do well to soothe our bones

You know… I’ve turned the pages in search of you
To bring you into the light
But the room is dark even in the day
And here you’ve been all along, anyway
With the bread in the old breadbox

With the butter on that unpainted window sill
With the water in that stone well
And with the milk
The steaming hot milk
Straight from that spotted cow

Here, have a seat, I shall
And drink with me this moment
Let your flesh sink in
And let off the weariness of the day
Here, have some freshly baked bread

And here, have some butter
Use that knife, the silver one, it doesn’t rust
Be generous, spread it so it drips
It’s fresh you know, not store-bought
It’s real, like you and I

And when we sit like this for a while
We can say nothing, just sit still
We can think if you are not too tired
We can just pause and just be
And in time, maybe the church will ring its old bell

And the sound will stir in our chests
And the melody will ring in our ears
And we can walk out that door
That old door, half painted, half varnished
Down those worn stairs, watching our steps

And I can walk beside you
On the spring grass and on the dry ground
And stop by that old wooden fence
Near that old cobblestone road
Where the newness has not come yet

Where the cobwebs linger in the corners
Where if you if wait, you might hear
The memory undiluted speak
Like an icon to a mad priest
Words that once meant hope

And know those old ruins that still sing
That precious song of yore
That untired song of life once lived
That song of fresh wounds, His wounds
Not this happy stuff that flies from the West

But that goodness of butter and milk
Of bread and freshly taken honey
Of tea chilled by the wind
Prepared and served by human hands
With a crisp heart song, of Russian poets.

For Yevgeny Yevtushenko (July 18, 1933 – April 1, 2017), poet.

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