You float like a cloud in trousers
I stand with my cow in the rain
Your poems electrified Russia
Your dams were a hymn to the rain
Your empire crumbled around us
As here and as gone as the rain
The birch tree lies by the roadside
Its branches are wept by the rain
The smoke of my village drifts upwards
Its ashes retreat from the rain
Your red square has entered the market
Its cobbles are slick with the rain
The future lies inside the present
As close as a cloud and its rain.
Credit note:First published in Lynx XXI:1, Feb 2006.
Tim says: This is my one and only published attempt at a ghazal. I don’t think it’s as fleet-footed as the ghazal by Mary Cresswell I posted last week, and in fact, I’d almost forgotten I’d written it – but then poet and photographer Madeleine Slavick kindly sent me an article by John Berger about the Russian futurist poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, which touched on Mayakovsky’s ‘frenemy’ relationship with his contemporary, the Russian peasant poet Sergei Esenin (sometimes rendered as Yesenin).
To simplify greatly, in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, Mayakovsky tried to build the urban future in his poetry, while Esenin tried to preserve the rural past. Neither succeeded in life, though both did in art. Both died young and by their own hand.
In this poem, Esenin is the narrator, and Mayakovsky is the “cloud in trousers”, as he once referred to himself.
You can read all the Tuesday Poems on the Tuesday Poem blog – the featured poem is on the centre of the page, and the week’s other poems are linked from the right-hand column.