Noviy Rik (New Year) 1995
At a quarter after three the day is fading into the winter-gray clouds that anchor the edge of the sky. I look down from the edge of an empty plaza where Grandpa Lenin once stood confident hand clasped to lapel, his back to where the sun now sets. (They say he was taken down in pieces, that for three days only legs stood where there once was a whole man.) It is cold, just this side of frost, and the terraced fountains are empty, save for dead leaves and cigarette packs and three little boys who whisper conspiratorially, offer furtive looks to the sky-gazing shapka-headed poet. An old woman shuffles around the perimeter of one fountain. On the television they speak of privatization. In the living room they speak of the obscene cost of butter. At midnight the day before yesterday we drank Sovietskoe Champanske and hoped that this year will be better than the last. What choice do we have?
Steven Boyd Saum