Reading Chekhov

1 May 2015

We called it a Russian summer,
roses on the table, vase
too light in the wind — the blooms’
suitable pinkness, smarting.

She lent me a jacket—
pelty aubergine velour,
with button missing. And hat
of genuine silver fox

—undoubtedly monstrous.
I petted it shyly, tried the jacket,
its gappiness rehearsing
nobility’s bruising

and that sound of axes.
On the table, near the vase,
crystal bowl brought up
its bellyfull of cherries.

Black at the mouth, with cream,
we embarked (with sighing
by far our most
credible affectation).

Sucking Lapsang through teeth,
we pierced the glossy skin,
and swivelling the pits
set wet magenta running

along lines of wrists
to splish in drops to the floor
— seven sets of bloody fingernails
thumbing stains into paper.

The thud of some future,
and isn’t it funny? Everybody leaves.
It ends in luggage, and an old man fretting
for his master’s coat.

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