We remembered the newsreels with Uncle Joe
aka Koba the only one in grey,
so expected a black and white city.
But the colours astound us, beguile.
From our apartment – which used to be bugged –
we overlook what used to be October Square.
The monumental bronze statue – of Lenin, V.I.,
with assorted comrade soldiers and sailors set to march,
by Gorky Park, over the Crimea Bridge,
toward the Kremlin – is intact.
In May, parties of veterans queue to see Lenin
(erstwhile Ulyanov, V.I.) preserved.
Behind the Mausoleum, in the garden
of remembrance, is a bust of Stalin
(erstwhile Djugashvili, J.V.). Always,
fresh roses surround it. However,
in the Sculpture Park, the Great Helmsman,
in red granite, has had his nose knocked off.
Putin (sic), V.V. is crowned in the Tzar’s Cathedral,
the Annunciation. The double-headed eagle flies.
Like his forebears, he takes the salute in Red Square.
They are all dressed up in the uniforms
of the Great Patriotic War – and the troops
(not a tenor amongst them) greet their little C in C
with the time dishonoured and oh
so genuinely moving: “Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!”
Sometimes, that spring, when we opened the windows,
we thought we smelled tundra, sea and ice.
Opposite the Lenin statue, outside the Metro,
an elderly woman, in a worn, quilted coat,
sold wild hyacinths. We did not understand
the price. She fluttered her hand above her heart.