A TRAITOR'S WIFE AT CORRECTIVE LABOUR
Unwilling to escape, or run away,
She merely left, one very snowy day,
Trudging through woods, she fell behind her crew
bent to tie laces just as you might do
walking a Moscow street, and gently fell
into the snow and sleep. As one might tell
a child to feign sleep so that sleep might come
pull eiderdown on head and feel the drum
the slowing pulse of blood, whisper of breath
slip into sleep, sleep further to cold death.
She did not want the sudden biting pain
of being shot, of feeling in her brain
a sudden bullet. Wanted to be dead
if she could not be warm, could not be fed
more than thin soup, hard bread and turnip tops.
Sometimes we die, and sometimes life just stops
she thought, unseen by guards blinded by snow.
There is a silence in deep woods; they grow
out of the land and darkness, and are still
with shadow. If you lie there, it will fill
your mind and let you coldly cease to be.
Falling asleep the best end she could see
To days of aching work, nights that regret
made sleepless. Any sleep that she might get
chiselled away by cold, and snores, and moans.
She left her crew and life, and left her bones
where they lie yet. She got to choose her time
where others chose her death, for no known crime
save life. They took her out of all she knew,
beat her with fists until she stumbled through
a list of wickedness that made no sense
and claimed to show her mercy. Their pretense
of mercy just another clubbing blow
brought her at last, to lie here in the snow
here at the end of things with will to die
choose silence, and not choose to wail or cry
lie like a log and pass into the night
snow drifting on dead eyes to make them bright.
And if not now, tomorrow at first light.