When the writer visited

by Jamie Baty

Again a memorial hour is near
– Anna Akhmatova

When the writer visited,
blown through my door
like a newspaper we
drank champagne until
white night slipped into morning
while the Fontanka watched us
like a fisheye, dead and gleaming,
and the tree leaned in and
tapped at the window.

He left, leaving
a glove and a cigar on the ashtray
and taking with him the birch outside my window
and the grey of the river at the end of winter
although for years afterwards
(even after the old man was dead)
I would open the door when it
knocked and see them, pair of
jackboots, there outside my home.