v o l s k y, a g e 6 4, l o n g b e
a c h, n y
b y R o b e r t B o h m
The color of a mackerel frozen in ice:
the hollow cheeks.
Shivering, he leans against the wall.
The January wind,
language’s beginning, sweeps across the boardwalk, not far
from the Peep Club, nailed shut for years.
Like a fir needle tapering to nothing in the Russian forest he’ll never see,
history leads to him.
“When me and your papa first comes here from Novgorod,”
his mother used to say,
“We lose track what real cold is.”
That was then, he thinks.
The granite Atlantic beneath a drab sky as seen by gray eyes
makes him feel triumphant.
This place, the pure
dead weight of it, possesses
the solidity he needs.
No junk in his veins for eight years now, he dares
the wind to fuck with him.
Decades earlier, in ‘59
when the Nautilus Hotel burned down,
black smoke billowed above snowpiles, carrying
with it everything but the icicles that even then
pried open his eyes.