To Alexander Berkman

A poem by Lola Ridge

Can you see me, Sasha?
I can see you....
A tentacle of the vast dawn is resting on your face
that floats as though detached
in a sultry and greenish vapor.
I cannot reach my hands to you...
would not if I could,
though I know how warmly yours would close about them.
Why?
I do not know...
I have a sense of shame.
Your eyes hurt me... mysterious openings in the gray stone of your face
through which your spirit streams out taut as a flag
bearing strange symbols to the new dawn.

If I stay... projected, trembling against these bars filtering emaciated light...
will your eyes... that bore their lonely way through mine...
stop as at a friendly gate...
grow warm... and luminous?
... but I cannot stay... for the smell...
I know... how the days pass...
The prison squats
with granite haunches
on the young spring,
battened under with its twisting green...
and you... socket for every bolt
piercing like a driven nail.
Eyes stare you through the bars...
eyes blank as a graveled yard...
and the silence shuffles heavy dice of feet in iron corridors...
until the day... that has soiled herself in this black hole
to caress the pale mask of your face...
withdraws the last wizened ray
to wash in the infinite
her discolored hands.
Can you hear me, Sasha,
in your surrounded darkness?

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