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Those first days in Moscow,
they were the enemy:
their gray down gathering in corners
like the frail remains of long dead cicadas.
their dropping scarring the glass,
melding with black soot.

On a a flame of indignation,
upon the sturdy stove of my ego
I boiled water to wash away
their insults; as if, as if
they knew me and so
I had some right to tip their balance.

In the mornings I learn their control:
how easily they could penetrate my parallel world;
inerrupt those musky dreams that come
in the first moments of dawn.

I remember the satisfaction when I found it;
the long metal pole hidden in a corner.
I seized it, placed in beneath my bed,
that spear for my enemies,

When they came, disguised
as the sound of raining rice,
I raised the pole and beat beneath their claws.
So satisfying were the sounds:
of metal striking metal,
like bullets crackling in the cold air;
of their wings as fear lifted them away,
their small sounds of shock.
I imagined myself a great warrior.

In winter the snow saved my sleep,
but when I awoke and sat drinking my coffee,
I watched them through the kitchen window,
came to understand how well made they were.
Against the gray tongue of the Russian sky,
the colorless highrises, everything tinted
by a smokey wash, they were only slightly darker
gray gloves moving through the mysterious air,
touching the world
whenever and wherever they pleased.

Once, in the midst of a storm, I noticed them
clinging to power lines; whirling like tenacious
rags in the wind.
I felt a small child’s arm soft around my neck
How hard the wind was and they,
needing mercy.

In the spring they began their cooing
waking me even earlier then.
No longer needing the pole; the sound of bullets
I toss small bits of bread at them
wondering where they will lay their eggs.

Mary Metzger is a New Yorker living in Moscow for over a decade

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