Poem on a Line from Akhmatova

Poem by Christine Potter

I shall eat blue grapes with those who are dead 

—Anna Akhmatova 


After tonight’s supper, when you had left the room, 

a maybe-shadow crossed the kitchen with no one 

attached to it. Across the creek, before we’d even 


moved in, a white-haired man leaned on his cane 

to watch our painters, then stepped onto an old, 

grown-over road. And vanished in its brush and 


broken asphalt. In Deerfield, Massachusetts, you 

and I read of the 1704 massacre, then walked 

through dripping June heat and dim, thin-walled 


rooms with windowpanes small as my palm. 

Those houses were still sad, black front doors 

set in frames scrolled like gravestones. Please, 


listen. No place is really empty. Take this fruit 

in your hands and offer it. There is something more 

than just remembering. Even if it’s my great-aunt, 


tan in her green and white summer shirtwaist. 

She’s on the phone, as always, standing behind 

the back door’s dented screen, one foot balanced 


on a cold radiator, her leg hoisted waist-high. And I 

am five. I want to go outside and have to crawl 

beneath her. I see she also wears Hush Puppies, 


nylons with seams, and a washed-out garter belt. 

But she doesn’t notice me. She twirls one finger 

in her hair. Can’t you hear what it is she’s saying? 


American Arts Quarterly, Fall 2014, Volume 31, Number 4