"Лондонский маленький призрак"

by Sonya Taaffe


You were a ghost a lifetime before I got near you,
Velimir's apparition of London past
in a clerk's coat and pinstripes,
an actor or a time traveler
dropped in for a Brighton weekend in Petersburg.
Now, with more than a century
lying between us like cards from a devil's hand,
I catch you moving in the art of others—
bold as a linocut, misleading as a collage,
the bright-eyed jackdaw of all trades.
I talk too much sense to see you clearly, Alyosha,
from your flamboyant company
I thought you died young.
You were an old man in Moscow,
a seller of secondhand futures
the last year before men left footprints on the moon.
Before you were thirty, you threw down the sun.

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Sonya Taaffe's short fiction and poetry can be found in the collections Ghost Signs (Aqueduct Press), A Mayse-Bikhl (Papaveria Press), Postcards from the Province of Hyphens (Prime Books), and Singing Innocence and Experience (Prime Books), and in various anthologies including The Humanity of Monsters, Genius Loci: Tales of the Spirit of Place, and Dreams from the Witch House: Female Voices of Lovecraftian Horror. She is currently senior poetry editor at Strange Horizons; she holds master's degrees in Classics from Brandeis and Yale and once named a Kuiper belt object. She lives in Somerville with her husband and two cats.

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