The man in the vest adjusted his hair.
His eyes were electric blue.
You knew who he was and why he was there.
Sadly, no one else knew.
Then Boris came out with his Trotsky quip,
said Trotsky wasn’t that bad.
You noticed the blue-eyed man bite his lip.
Nothing more would need to be said.
You watched it unfold for the rest of the night:
the way Boris kept getting lit,
the charm he turned on, his teammates’ delight
at his escapist wit.
The next morning you knew not to look for him.
His room was empty and clean.
The hotel had checked in no one by that name.
He was never heard from again.
It’s been decades. Your children are teaching school.
Last December, the Curtain fell.
Some teammates of yours fell to alcohol.
You’re retired, still in decent health.
You think of Boris, that talking dead
on that night of pickles and vodka,
and the shadow of Asrael over his head
in the shape of a blue-eyed informant.
Was he sent to the Gulag, or was he shot
in the head right there in the yard?
You will never switch off this thought.
You will never get a fresh start.
There are bullet holes in the back of the bus
and behind the old kindergarten.
There is blood in the benches where fathers drink kvass
and ex-convicts make concept art.
You walk these streets every single day.
You drive your Jeep among ghosts.
You’ve grown accustomed to it. It’s okay.
Nothing revealed, nothing lost.
Only sometimes, at home, you let out a sigh.
Your granddaughter looks up at you.
You notice her look, raise an eyebrow, smile.
Her eyes are electric blue.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 37 Number 10, on page 25
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