Zoom Café

I met a woman named Nata  
with short blonde dreadlocks.  
I met her boyfriend Fyodor,  

who fell a bit in love with me.  
A little in love with both,  
I ordered ice cream  

with champanskie, wore bing cherry  
earrings that looked real enough to eat.  
I was a girl in a flute in the city  

of Petrograd, a city called Leningrad  
when I was a girl. Nata and Fed  
led me up a scaffold. We sat  

on newsprint, split block chocolate.  
The bricks of the roof read  
of families whom we starlit 

serenaded. I learned Cyrillic.  
I spelled my name. Fed imitated  
a hunched babushka. At the airport later,  

he battled a spitting officer  
on my behalf. We are happy  
to speak English, the woman said  

on my Riga layover. I had addressed her  
in Russian and knew no better.  
This world, I knew, would pass me by. 

***

Eileen G’Sell is a poet and culture critic with recent contributions to Fence, The Hopkins ReviewCurrent Affairs, Hyperallergic, Reverse Shot, and other outlets. Her first full-length volume of poetry, Life After Rugby, was published in 2018 by Gold Wake Press, and in 2019 she was nominated for the national Rabkin Foundation award in arts journalism. She teaches at Washington University in St. Louis.

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