Imperfective Future

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.