The air was bitter last night, coming from the far North,
Farther north than the top of this small island,
On, out and beyond to Russia, to the Russian Steppes,
That fabulous name I once heard on the lips of my father.
Its frosty winter wind swirling over us, skirts full of wolves and ice,
Mountains and grasslands and unimaginable fables.
This is a place whose very name freezes my fingers,
Makes a wild untidy nest of my frozen hair,
As if those immense mountains of light and shadow,
Of frost and ice were reaching down to touch me
Standing in the top hallway in the soft light of the night light,
Unable to sleep, unable to caress the darkness,
Bare feet cold on the white wooden floor.
The Russian Steppes love me. I know it. I have never been there
But what does that matter when I know them and they know me,
Waiting patiently, stormily, for my lightest call, coming to wherever I am.
Great mountains and meadows, silver waters and frozen valleys
Crash over the world in their haste to be at my side.
My fingers tremble as I pull rocks out of the path of glittering waters.
Fold one mountain over another, counterpane them with love.
A sudden car rolling up the street nudges me. Time to sleep.
But before I go, I put those remote and perfect mountains
In my garden, tucking them into the empty fields,
Warming their craggy toes in oak tree and willow,
Watching their aristocratic faces until they put on misty crowns
And fade away, my love travelling with them.
This is one love affair that will never be over.
© 2020 Gwen Grant