I enjoyed school essays. In fact, I looked forward to writing those long, excruciating assignments that prompted me to pull out the volumes of poetry from the long wooden shelves and weave their impeccably rhythmic lines into my scattered teenage thoughts. Words came naturally.  Each essay was submitted in its own thin scholarly lined notebook, with the Pioneer oath to Communism on the cover.

As I was drifting asleep, I recited aloud the poems of early 20th century, trying to sound out the hidden truths. I read the biographies, but the cruel reality that most of my favorite poets died in the Soviet concentration camps did not pair well with the beauty of their masterpieces:

“After midnight, the heart pinches away

Right from your hands the prohibited silence.

From living in quiet – to mischievous play,

Like it or not, but it’s without rivals…”

Reciting and re-reading the poems from my school years has become a simple trick of meditation, a key to finding mindfulness, a return to my roots. I found the calmness in the rhythm and meter of the poetic flow, enjoyed the jingling of strong Russian consonants, and submerged in introspectively saturated reality of their imaginary worlds. The poems carried me forward.

My aunt passed away today, unexpectedly. As before, I pulled out my beloved collection of Russian poems and tried to find solace in the intricate metaphors and familiar alliterations.

This is my ode to poetry, which I am ever grateful for.

“…Love – love it not, can’t clasp it once grasped.

Hushed like a foundling, you’re in a drowse,

Is it because the heart is feasting, at last,

As it savors the taste of the silvery mouse?”

Ossip Mandelshtam, 1931

Photo credit to Toa Heftiba on Unsplash