For Eugenia Semyonovna Ginzberg
Transport Train 7 is in motion again,
Going who knows where, the brigands
won’t say. In prison I was a stone, now
I’m lighter, shifting sand. I press my nose
against the boxcar slats and smell onion fields
growing, read the color of the sky, searing blue.
It’s June, 1939. We all wear the same gray
uniform. Some of us, just out of solitary,
haven’t spoken for more than two years,
now we all talk at once. Zinaida recites
her own poems. Sonya says life before Yaroslavl
was long ago and never happened anyway.
Who am I? Until today I was Cell 3, north side.
I was once a teacher, journalist, mother,
wife. I recite Eugene Onegin, hear sighs.
Who knows when you’ll need a poem?
Guards pound the door, accuse us of hiding
books. It’s not me reciting poems.
It’s not God, he was deposed with the Tsar.
It’s this boxcar holding seventy-six women
prisoners in it’s arms. It’s the rustle of women
lying down on their bunks to remember love.
It’s the wind seeping through the slats of the train.
It’s these wheels keeping time to Pushkin.
*Original music accompanying these poems were written by Steve Jones who is a composer, musician, songwriter, and teacher who lives in Kensington, MD. He has written two jazz musicals.