Meditations on dear Petrov
Set in 19th Century Russia during a time of war
by Susan Tepper
Between the pleats of time a broken picture. My mother in half wearing glorious red. All I have left. Bits of hair streaming like bird wisps. Uncertain. A shredded canvas. All that’s her. Hung from the wall by a nail. I think I remember a breast against my cheek. Perhaps not. A dream of closeness. Or something my father implied long ago. Both of them taken. I will never find out. What of her gowns and jewels I had asked him. Gone. Everything whisked off like brooming the floors. It’s a matter of conscience. Whether to sweep or let the dirt drift in piles. Dirt has a memory. Bones and roots. My hair is not of her color. In the picture hers is a warm ginger. Mine is practically the darkest night. A lack of all warmth. Deceptive. Perhaps that’s what you most despise, dear Petrov. This has reached its own level. A tide or some storm flooding the house. We move slowly from kettle to fireside. In nightmares. The water pushing back. I try to stop the flow but it has its own season. I think of filling the house with branches. Tangled in vases from room to room. I would swallow my pride. Continue to love you.
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More about Susan Tepper's widely published work can be found at www.susantepper.com.