About the Author
Books

POETRY  
PROSE
ESSAYS
INTERVIEW
From the book Kliazma and Yauza
From the book The Wild Rose
From the book Tristan and Isolde
From the book Old Songs
From the book Gates. Windows. Arches
From the book Stanzas in the Manner of Alexander Pope
From the book Stellae and Inscriptions  
From the book The Iambic Verses
The Chinese Travelogue
From An Unfinished Book
From the book The Evening Song
From the book Elegies
From the book The Beginning of a Book
From the book Stellae and Inscriptions
(1982)

To Nina Braginskaya
who has studied antique epitaphs, and much else, insightfully
Two Figures
Brother and sister? husband and wife?
daughter and father? all that and more?
Which of them died, who is alive
                               to order this slab,
a monument to meeting?
                    Who wanted whom to remember
at parting? not meekly, not greedily.
One doesn’t have to remember much: we can’t take a lot.
Native earth, just a handful, in an alien land – that is enough.
The rest will remain where it feels right at home.

An attentive glance, death, you won’t take away
                          the legitimate handful
from the one who is leaving, still grieving for us. Who is that leaving?
who, having pined during long separation, just barely
will finally touch the dear hand? –
                  shadow to shadow, past to past,
pale to pale. What do they say there?
They are saying:
     – It’s like that.
– I swear that it’s like that.
     –It was and it will be,
even if it won’t be. Like that.
                         O, passerby, love life.
Offer thanks for it. Spirits don’t need much:
a monument to meeting.

Andrew Wachtel

***

Two Figures

Brother and sister? husband and wife? daughter and father?
all these and more?
Which of them died, which lives
               and ordered this gravestone,
a monument to meeting?
        Who wants to remember whom at parting?
not timidly, not greedily. To remember,
but not much; we can’t bear much:
a handful of native earth in another land – that’s plenty.
The rest will stay where it feels at home.

An attentive glance, Death, you wouldn’t snatch –
                                   the legitimate handful
from the one who’s leaving, sad for us. Who is leaving?
Who, after yearning through a long separation, finally
touches the dear hand? –
                    Shadow to shadow, past to past,
white to white. What are they talking about there?
They say:
     – That’s how it is.
– I swear, that’s how it is.
     – That’s how it was and how it will be,
even if it won’t be. Like that.
                               Passer-by, love your life,
give thanks for it. Shadow doesn’t need much:
a monument to meeting.

Roy Fisher
A Boy, an Old Man, and a Dog
The Figure of a Woman
 Two Figures
Mistress and Servant
Pitcher: Tombstone of a Friend
Playing Child
Inscription
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