Pasternak’s death mask in his house at Perdelkino

His rows of books we are not let touch
and his portrait shows a sad expression
like the one that kept me looking
at the Mother of Sorrows in Kazan Church.

All is in order, the sleepy death mask –
a plaster cast without a scratch;
and furniture that’s old-style
and still retains the aura of its former time.

His cap and coat still hang here,
as if he might come back someday –
the genius of the house to his hideaway
to pace the floors to Scribian’s music,

Shakespeare’s metres, vocables
taken by the roots into a second language.
In pride of place are the poet’s daybed
and escritoire. At Peredelkino

he became a man with snow in his hair,
a scribe at scribe-work, serene in old age –
who heard the grass growing and the train
that kept going until the end of the story.

Moscow, June 2011.

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