The night before I leave there is a storm. Wind, a train

down Nevsky that runs past us before we can turn

to see what it is. Street dirt bites our eyes,

sunset clenched by fists of cloud.


We undress, hold each other urgently; heat of our bodies

a false certainty. Tired and dumb, we whisper small words,

I love you, I love you, pebbles to dam the tide of coming morning.

Forgive us. We don’t know how. Love is not inevitable—


when met with what can’t be named, that we choose

love is a kind of grace that shades everything.

The soft shadows of night-snow turning

winter into a sleeping-animal blue.


In the morning we take a cab to the airport, Sky, a bloodless face

we can’t read, suspect it might be judging us, though we don’t say.

We think we might have lacked courage the night before,

though we don’t say this either.


Sometimes I will dream of return, but in the dreams, clouds entropy.

Wind shears your face. And instead of coming home with bread and wine

to find me reading at our kitchen table, a candle gutters

and you will walk away.


At the airport we sit on the steps, share a cigarette.

Without thinking you reach over to wipe something from my lip,

hold your finger there. Later you help me carry my bags through customs,

yell an insult back at the Russian guards before you kiss each of my eyelids,


and promise we’ll meet soon. Forgive us, we lack courage.

Don’t know how to hold the pose of letting go. But the grace

of the moment on the step, your finger, pressed to my lip,

its small shadow—a sleeping-animal blue.