This poem was originally published as a Poem Flyer.
You’d never use a ballpoint, so your ink
Lapped at the banks of pedagogy. Here,
You boxed a в and underscored a на;
In several margins, shaped a row of жs —
The first, revision; later ones, for pleasure.
Your tick-marks flung out world-embracing arms,
Like comrades cheering by each exercise:
If I have time, I’ll see St Petersburg.
I’ll always write you letters. There, you died.
A quarter of a language — what’s it mean?
And yet, to be mid-lesson is to be
Alive. And neither love nor grammar can,
In certain circumstances, change its form
To reflect completion. Live, then, in your text;
If I’m allowed, I’ll always write you back.