—After the last Russian tsar and his family were executed in the Bolshevik revolution, rumors arose that his youngest daughter, Anastasia, had survived. A woman called Anna Anderson claimed to be the missing Anastasia and persuaded many influential people. Anderson was a former mental patient and worker in a Polish munitions factory, who had suffered a head injury in a factory accident.
I come from somewhere else, wielding a face
symmetrical but hanging like an apron.
Everyone is watching
this face with its left and its right,
not deft among the severed, moving truths.
Its stillness suggests an injury,
a different language, clouds of stinging bees.
Its smile is irrevocable, intelligible in this shared air
where even the dullest stalks are purple at the tips
and scented. Things assembled wildly, like springtime.
Is it possible to forget who you are—or to remember?
I want to hold and point one sun-colored fact,
a foreground to arrange the objects that are slant and sideways.
A grey weld fastened to a memory of sparks and skill.
A cold North pulling rapt blue navigators.
Some weep at my story, a pleasant background sound—
a small sound like seltzer. Not, I think, the noise
of the true bereft—the moans, the winking bullets.
Not the grimace of those who were loved and then slipped
suddenly below the world—like alligators, eyes last.
Patricia Nelson is a retired attorney who worked for many years with the “Activist” group of poets in California. Her most recent book is Spokes of Dream or Bird, Poetic Matrix Press.