Katherine E. Young


Lermontov's Room

The hollow heart beats evenly.
— Mikhail Lermontov

He himself hurried along this hall,
up breakneck stairs, down that corridor,
boot heels clack-clacking to the rat-tat-tat
of mémère’s disapproval. Same old story,
the old and young: he won’t amount to much
if he doesn’t shape up, she just can’t seem
to understand what real life is about…
His room is perched atop the house, an aerie
seemingly conjured from November’s sullen
clouds. A poet’s place—Pushkin above
the desk—the peaks of the Caucasus engraved,
fantastic—leather-bound Byrons, Schillers,
and Chéniers spilling across the shelves.
Ask the old woman who sits by the door
and she’ll recite his verses, rocking gently
with the rhythms, thinking back to days
at school, when it had seemed to her just
the most poetic thing, to die young.

Katherine E. Young's chapbook, Gentling the Bones, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2007; a second chapbook, Van Gogh in Moscow, is forthcoming from Pudding House Press. Individual poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, The Massachusetts Review, The Iowa Review, and Shenandoah.


Published in Volume 10, Number 1, Winter 2009.


Read more by this author:
Katherine E. Young: Evolving City Issue