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Featured Poem II • October 2013

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Anna They Have Killed

 

Jennifer Crow

 

In memory of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya,
murdered October 7, 2006

 

Life spools across the tiles, red words they whispered As they pulled the trigger. Loose tongues must be punished And silence must come to the brave. However many battles She witnessed, however many dead names she inscribed On the walls of the world, she could not guard her own heart From the fateful brass and powder. Death jangles In the empty lobby where burned-out bulbs leave shadows Between doors. Death rides in long black cars and slides Across the pavement on fine leather and shoots its cuffs Before the fatal, fateful blast. We know its face well enough, Though not one soul will bear witness. She carried the poison in her blood, the tales told Of murder, of torture, of sparking wires thrust into the heart Of a nation. She carried poison from a cup of tea, A cup of hate pressed into her hand by the secret enemy. Every face hides an enemy, a hunger without peace. You can eat in this brave new world of open markets, Eat and never be filled, never quiet the rumbling That wells up out of the tundra, the forest, the vast cold sea. You can give all your coins, all those crumpled paper bills, And still crave a closed loop, a surcease, a cease-fire. Someone will bury the story, slit its throat, fire A bullet of lies into its heart and let it fall, silenced. Everyone knows already, though they never look At the ink stains, the poisoned dreams. They know already The pointed finger will be sliced off. A tsar still rules old Moskva, and his men Ride with broom and dog’s head, ride Out of the night and burn the truth in the fields. Her fingers curl a little against the cool tiles, stretch As if to grasp truth one last time. She caught the hem Of the gods, the fearful robe that covers The terrible deeds of men, and tried to pull it aside. But the gods that dwell between the Dnieper and the Volga, The old powers of fear and waste, will not turn aside For the fearless. They lay claim on blood and fire And draw a cloak over her dimming eyes.

 

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Jennifer_CrowLater this year, Elektrik Milk Bath Press will publish a collection of Jennifer Crow’s mythology and folklore poetry, called The First Bite of the Apple. She lives with her family near a waterfall in western New York.

She says that “‘Anna They Have Killed’ refers to the death of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered in her apartment building by unknown assailants (though they are widely believed to be agents of the Russian government.) No one has been brought to trial for the crime—which wasn’t the first attempt on her life—and the situation reminded me of earlier oppressive regimes in Russia. History may not repeat itself, but there are shadows that stretch across centuries.”

 

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