I have come back to my city, so known my very being weeps:
Old illness, old comforts, gauzy dreams, swollen sleeps.

Now, now, child, little one, take your medicine, drink it down:
A little sip of fish oil from the streetlamps that light this dark

Look alive: it’s December, remember how near you are
To night: already the yolk of light marred with toxic tar.

Petersburg! I don’t want to die.
I watch my telephone with a watched eye.

Petersburg! I know every floor, every door the dead
Do not answer: one by one they open in my head.

I have come back to my city, quietly, so quietly,
But the doorbell’s wired to my nerves, rooted in the meat of

And all night I itch untouchable, as with a paraplegic’s pains,
Waiting for the door to rattle in its chains.

— Osip Mandelstam
(December, 1930)

2 thoughts on “Leningrad

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