From Susan Paddon's first collection of poetry, Two Tragedies in 429 Breaths (Brick Books).
Church bells, distant canticles called him to the street. He could walk through everything. Like the alleys of Petersburg, ill-dressed because the show wasn’t going his way. Maria’s ivory cross no longer around his neck. She was always the first to search, to drop everything, refuse to sleep until he came back home. The others thought they knew better. Leave him to wallow in success for a while. But they’d turn to her first. We need a Chekhov play! A sister can work magic on a stubborn man— for you he’ll do anything, Maria! So she sent searching prayers off in convoys, looking for him and on behalf of him, knees to the floor next to her bed. And he never stopped counting on this. He was good to her, her brother. Save that July when a syllable couldn’t be managed to put her mind at ease. Still, if she had been born the walker. Someone who could get away on foot. Who loved to roam the empty streets at night, the church bells, the distant canticles.
This is the third of five poems in a series dedicated to Maria Chekhova. Read the fourth poem, Maria, 1878.