Elegy from Chechnya with the Eyes in It

You are in Chechnya as I lick your glass
As if it’s not vodka in the glass, but the eyes
Of that Orthodox priest Anatoly
From the war zone in Grozny
The priest from your Chechen stories
Whose eyes “with the quiet, pure light”
Affected you so much you talked of
Nothing but, speaking to anyone &
No one in particular

Like what you said you did
Firing at whoever & only later
Who was who

I would listen to you now, but
The sobbing babushkas from your stories
Are banging their fists on the closed gates
Of the Grozny monastery
Inside your heart
Because Anatoly—
Already kidnapped
Already tortured
Already on the Internet
All ready to be googled into eternity
Inside his ditch

Your loneliness, my love, Raskolnikov’s
In his room that resembles a coffin
Kissing the eyes of a horse beaten to death
From a childhood memory
Inside the womb of moral responsibility
Because, Dostoevsky tells us,
It is necessary that every person have at least
somewhere to go
So, let me be there with you—
In the coffin with the eyes in it

Svetlana Beggs’ poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Pleiades and Columbia Poetry Review, and her stories were recently in Cleaver Magazine and Bartleby Snopes. A native of St. Petersburg, Russia she has an M.A. in Philosophy and lives in Seattle with her husband and daughter.