Size / / /

Leonid hears the knock on the door,

Puts the final touches on the potato salad.

It's Antropov, bearing a casserole,

He beams and shakes a sun-warm hand:

Mikhailovich, it's good to see you.

It's funny how quickly habits can be learned

He thinks, as the coats swell up in the closet.

Hundreds of slim, luminescent gentlemen

All talking about the weather.

Markov is holding court by the punchbowl:

He chose to go into politics.

The papers called his rise meteoric,

And everyone had a good laugh.

It's a pleasant, star-bright afternoon:

Generations mingle and whisper in tongues.

Leonid is a good host, a busy host.

He has no time to feel alone.

No time to think: wife, mother, aunt, family

Child.

When the crowds of relatives take flight again

He washes the dishes and sits on the porch

Binoculars in hand, staring at the sky.

Beams of light, sparks of light, shooting into the

atmosphere.

They say it's burning gas.

It has been three years since he himself fell.

Every night he takes his coffee outside.

Maybe if he waits long enough

A pitted, ironhard chunk of metal-rock

Will fall into his backyard.

Maybe it will split, cocoonlike, into dust

And birth a boy, a glowing boy,

A boy with a Russian nose.

Then he could smile, and shake his hand

Leonid Mikhailovich the Second.

Teach him how to keep the glowing down,

Fix his lunch and read him bedtime stories:

Once there was a man who came from the stars.




Leah Bobet's most recent novel, An Inheritance of Ashes, won the Sunburst, Copper Cylinder, and Prix Aurora Awards, and her short fiction has appeared in multiple Year's Best anthologies. She lives and works in Toronto, where she picks urban apple trees, builds civic engagement spaces, and makes large amounts of jam. Visit her at www.leahbobet.com.
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