I Saw Rasputin | By Carl Boon
I saw Rasputin—or his shadow— near the limbs of the ash tree, our place, where the northern wall’s begun to crumble. Mama says his face is the Lord’s Himself, and threatens sometimes to shroud him while he’s sleeping and stencil his features with pinks and grays. She says the true saints have a vicious side the world can’t see, and that the cruelty of our winters here contain the embryos of spring. She believes that she alone can make him blossom. Tell me, Tatyana, when we watch those murders of crows moving past us do you feel afraid? Would you like to touch his beard while he is praying? Papa says the fallen always rise again and that pilgrims from the countryside turn soup to liquid gold. Maria dreams of him stitching silk flowers on hats and splitting the throats of hens. Anastasia follows him to measure his bootprints in the snow. We’re going mad; the Empire’s going mad, I fear, from this thunder inside us, this thunder we make when we twitch in our beds and don’t tell God of our fragility, our necks the necks of swans stretched forth to a hungry and impatient people. If we must go I fear he’ll follow: the persistent moon we watch from the train, the moon Alexei calls indifferent and mean. If he must go I fear we’ll follow, blood-touched, small again.
Carl Boon is the author of the full-length collection Places & Names: Poems (The Nasiona Press, 2019). His poems have appeared in many journals and magazines, including Prairie Schooner, Posit, and The Maine Review. He received his Ph.D. in Twentieth-Century American Literature from Ohio University in 2007, and currently lives in Izmir, Turkey, where he teaches courses in American culture and literature at Dokuz Eylül University.