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Our house, the street’s first, was built epochs ago

on Cheshire pastureland. There has been nothing

for history to note here – only births, deaths,

the occasional fire and break-in,

and marriages at the Methodist Church

almost opposite us. Empires collapsed

from within – Austro-Hungarian,

British, French, German, Ottoman, Russian,

and Soviet. Here only the seasons came,

and bed-sits, then gentrification.


Now the St Petersburg Resurrection

A Cappella Choir – founded post-Gorbachev

to sing the liturgy in concert halls –

performs this autumn night in the church feet

from our front door. So powerful is this octet

the first three rows are kept entirely empty.

The utilitarian space fills with that

Russian Orthodox polyphony

guaranteed to make even an infidel’s

neck hairs tingle – plangent, sonorant, soulful.

I think of Tolstoy’s novel ‘Resurrection’,

his last – the hypocrisy of suppression,

the injustices of poverty,

the long path to redemption through cold, dull wastes.


During the interval, like a scene

from some implausible cold war movie

three Russian men in DJs – the two basses

and the conductor/founder of the choir

quietly, almost surreptiously, leave

the building, and go into the shadows

of the small, bushy garden. Matches flare.

Three cigarette ends glow.





© Copyright David Selzer

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