If I could write like Tolstoy

by Laura Scott

­­                                                            you’d see a man
dying in a field with a flagstaff still in his hands.

I’d take you close until you saw the grass
blowing around his head, and his eyes

looking up at the white sky. I’d show you
a pale-faced Tsar on a horse under a tree,

breath from its nostrils, creases in gloved fingers
pulling at the reins, perhaps hoof marks in the mud

as he jumps the ditch at the end of the field.  
I’d show you men walking down a road,  

one of them shouting to the others to get off it.
You’d hear the ice crack as they slipped down the bank  

to join him, bringing their horses with them. You’d feel
the blood coming out of the back of someone’s head

warm for a moment, before it touched the snow.
I’d show you a dead man come back to life.

Then I’d make you wait – for pages and pages –
before you saw him go to his window

and look at how the moon turns half a row
of trees silver, leaves the other half black.