In today's daydream we are in your Grandmother's St Petersburg.
You speak Russian to me, and I understand.
Words, rich and heady as spiced vodka
fill mouths stained purple with borscht;
we swill them around
and breathe them out in gusts,
ghosts dancing in the cold
air between us.

I have built the extravagant domes Pasternak-perfect
just as you described them when you retold Baba's
stories, wrapped around me on our first sofa.
Glittering bubbles of red and gold, they float
into white sky to give it colour.

And beneath, on ground as white as the sky,
there we are, brown and bulky,
with fur heavy on our backs, in feathered rims
about our faces, and lining the suede boots
that we stamp into the silencing snow.

You turn to me, the word
my alternate recognises as love
curling steamily from your mouth with
always twining into it, next breath.
Then your face shifts, twists,
as it did in yesterday in Miami,
last week, beside Lake Como.
Greyed with regret, your lips begin
to say something like but.

I erase the snow, the ice domes
the pines. My ears close out
the last strains of a balalaika.
I remind myself that I do not
speak Russian, and that it is,
after all, an ugly language.
I refuse to understand it.

New dreams tomorrow.