Akademicheskaya Metro Station
Sixty-four meters underground: vaulted ceilings
whiter than eggshells, chrome shinier
than any American diner. Pride of Lenin, who, mummified,
did not see it open but extolled its nominal achievement
by plaque five meters tall. On the escalator, my hand
in a grey fingerless glove finds yours. A second couple
kiss for all four minutes, unaware
of a pigeon who showers the descendants
with sour cream from a blini sold and stolen
up above. The dogs are new but have the same ailments.
We rename them in honor of their ancestors.
Petya’s paw bends backwards when he walks,
a Petersburg gentleman come to call,
never without his ivory walking stick.
Volodya’s protuberant eyeballs skew
even farther apart but still resemble
the marbled breasts of a statue by Loganovsky
now housed in the Winter Palace basement
and appreciated mostly by cats with regal scruffs.
And little Alyosha, whose tail is hooked
in the very shape of Rasputin’s nose,
burned not far from the sidewalk
on which he scratches the fleas of spring.
April’s sun cracks the ice that has crept glacier-like
from the liquor store, past the international dorm
where armed guards protect drunker students,
past Khrushchyovka dwellings and shopping centers
that boast juicy oranges and condoms
that often work. It drops calves of cigarettes smoked
down to the filter and interred — frozen
spittle still clinging to milky ends — bottles, dog shit, our favorite
canned cocktail, and a malachite earring lost in the snow.
Krysia Wazny McClain is a poet and freelance editor. She met her husband while studying abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia, as an undergraduate Slavic Studies major. They now live in Massachusetts with their two cats, Merricat and Constance. All are Shirley Jackson fans. In June 2020, Krysia will begin an MFA in poetry at Bennington College.